Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Bout of Books 10.0


Hi Everyone!

Tonight I'd just like to share that I will be participating in the upcoming read-a-thon, Bout of Books 10.0 !

This week long read-a-thon runs from May 12 to May 18, and from what I understand the only goal is to beat your normal number of books read in a week. I'm sincerely hoping that since I have about a dozen tests this week in school, that read-a-thon week will be a light week for school work so I can get in as much reading as possible. I hope to read at least three books, if not more, throughout that week. Not sure what I'll be reading yet but I will of course be posting when I decide.

Here's the official blurb that sums up what the read-a-thon is about, found on the site:

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 12th and runs through Sunday, May 18th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 10 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

Here's where you sign up! It's super simple, just make a post announcing that you'll be participating, and leave a direct link to your post on the website. You can also participate through only Twitter or Instagram as well, and the directions for that are also explained on the webpage.

If you need more information, here's the Bout of Books home page. I hope you'll consider participating in this read-a-thon, and if you do, please leave me a comment or a tweet, letting me know that you're participating, or what you'll be reading throughout the week!

Thanks so much for reading :)

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Book Review: Impulse by Ellen Hopkins


http://ellenhopkins.com/YoungAdult/

Goodreads Synopsis: 
Sometimes you don't wake up. But if you happen to, you know things will never be the same.

Three lives, three different paths to the same destination: Aspen Springs, a psychiatric hospital for those who have attempted the ultimate act -- suicide.

Vanessa is beautiful and smart, but her secrets keep her answering the call of the blade.

Tony, after suffering a painful childhood, can only find peace through pills.

And Conner, outwardly, has the perfect life. But dig a little deeper and find a boy who is in constant battle with his parents, his life, himself.

In one instant each of these young people decided enough was enough. They grabbed the blade, the bottle, the gun -- and tried to end it all. Now they have a second chance, and just maybe, with each other's help, they can find their way to a better life -- but only if they're strong and can fight the demons that brought them here in the first place.

666 pages.   

4.30 average rating on Goodreads

Published 2007

Genre: YA, Drama, Realistic Fiction

 My Review:

This book is yet another tragic story written beautifully in prose poetry by the infallible Ellen Hopkins. Three troubled teens, Tony, Vanessa, and Conner all come from very different upbringings, but meet and become friends when they are all admitted to Aspen Springs, a psychiatric centre for young people.

I really liked that parts of the story were told from the perspective of each of the young people. I love when books are written from more than one perspective, so that you get to see the intimate details of the past that make each character who they are.

Tony, raised by a mother who never wanted to raise him, and ignored by a father who never bothered to know him, turns to pills to deal with his feelings. He is unsure of who he is, who he wishes to become, and how to love other people. Tony is an incredibly nice, friendly person, and we get to see him open more as he learns to forgive his father and figure out who he is.

Vanessa was raised essentially by her grandmother, since her military father was usually absent and her bipolar mother preferred the pill bottle to her children. Vanessa now finds that she herself shows symptoms of bipolar disorder, as well as depression (likely brought on by guilt of a rather dark portion of her past). She cuts herself for no reason other than to feel alive. In this book we see her seeking a close relationship with someone who truly cares about her (unlike her ex-boyfriend, Trevor, who just wanted to get in her pants), and affirmation that she has made good decisions in her life.

Conner, raised with his twin sister in a seemingly perfect household, with two perfectionist parents and a nanny, finds himself finally cracking under the pressure to be nothing less than the best. Conner has grown up starving for attention from a mother who never showed him any, and finds himself drawn to older, female authority figures. Though Conner desperately wants love and approval from his mother, he needs his parents to slack off the pressure and accept his depression, and if they don't, the consequences may be fatal.


I enjoyed reading this book but I wish there would've been more time to get to know each of the characters. Some of the plot twists didn't make sense to me (ahem, Tony and Vanessa), but the ending was a complete surprise that I thought was a perfect fit! I also thought Ms. Hopkins did a great job describing each of the characters' thought processes, giving them their own quirky personalities. 

Although I enjoyed this book and plan to read the second one, Perfect, I probably wouldn't consider it a favorite, and likely won't reread it. However, Crank and Glass by Ellen Hopkins, I do consider favorites! See my review of Glass here: http://with-sugar.blogspot.ca/2014/04/book-review-glass-by-ellen-hopkins.html  

Overall I give this book 3/5 stars, simply because it wasn't as amazing as I'd hoped for. If you are new to Ellen Hopkins books though, I definitely encourage you to read it as you will probably think it's fantastic. 

Thanks for reading! :)




                                        



Sunday, 27 April 2014

Readathon Recap

Hello Everyone!

I am very excited to have participated in my first readathon yesterday, Dewey's 24-Hour Readthon! Although I definitely did not read for 24 hours straight, I read more pages than I planned to, and it's the most reading I've done in one day for a long time.

Readathon in my time zone started at. 8:30 a.m., at which time I turned off my alarm clock and went back to sleep (oops). When I woke up at 11:00 a.m., I began by finishing my first book of the day, Impulse by Ellen Hopkins

This book tells the story of three teenagers who have attempted suicide, and how they help each other in the struggle to recover while in a psychiatric treatment centre.

I read the last 366 pages of this book fairly quickly, finishing around 1:00 p.m., as this book is a pretty quick read, given how few words there are on the pages. 

I took a little break and had some lunch, then relocated to my bathtub to start reading Night by Elie Wiesel


This book is the real-life experiences of a man who survived the horrors of Auschwitz as a teenage boy, during WW2 when the extermination of all Jews was top priority in Germany. Wiesel bravely recounts every gruesome detail of his experiences, so that people of the future do not allow history to repeat itself.

This book was only 115 pages, and took me only an hour and 10 minutes to read. 

I then took another break and went out to supper for a friend's birthday. When I came home, I started reading my third book of the day, Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult.


This book is about a 40-year-old music therapist who has been battling infertility for years. When her husband finally decides he's had enough, they divorce and she now finds herself trying to make a new life for herself, the one she had always pictured having recently gone to hell. 

I'm particularly enjoying that, as always with Picoult's books, we get to read from three different points of view: Zoe, the infertile music therapist, Max: Zoe's (ex-) husband, and Vanessa: Zoe's new friend.

It took me about 3 1/2 hours to read the first 202 pages of this book, and I hope to read a great deal more of it today.


SO all in all, I spent a total of 6 hours and 40 minutes reading yesterday, and read a grand total of 683 pages yesterday, which I personally think is pretty awesome for myself, considering my goal was 500 pages. 

I really enjoyed my first readathon, and connecting with other readathoners via Twitter and Instagram. Please leave a comment telling me what goals you accomplished yesterday, or what books you read, or you can always tweet me at @_withsugarontop ! 

Thanks for reading, and I hope everyone else enjoyed the readathon as much as I did! 

Friday, 25 April 2014

Series Quick Reviews: The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare


Hello everyone :)

For today's post I will be briefly sharing with you my opinions on each of the first five books in Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series, which has become a new favorite series of mine.

The sixth and final book in the series, City of Heavenly Fire is not released until next month, but having already marathon-read the first five books, I can't wait to get my hands on it! 

1. City of Bones

This is the book where Clary first discovers the world of Shadowhunters, meets Jace, the Lightwoods, and discovers the secret her mother has been keeping her from "for her own protection" throughout her entire life. It took a very short amount of time for me to fall in love with Clary and the other characters, as well as their quick wit and dry humor. Though this book was a little slow in the beginning, due to character development and what not, I still gave it 5/5 stars and would recommend it to anyone!

2. City of Ashes

In this book, Clary is struggling to find a way to bring her mother, Jocelyn, out of her magically induced coma, placed upon her by Clary's astranged father, who just happens to be the 'uber-villain' of the whole entire magical world, a detail that never came up much throughout Clary's childhood. Clary's best friend, Simon, has been turned into a vampire.On top of that, Clary has to deal with her infuriatingly charming and handsome brother, Jace, whom she desperately wishes was not her brother. I have nothing but good things to say about this book as well, and also gave it 5/5 stars.

3. City of Glass 

In the third instalment of the series, Clary travels to the ancestral home of the Shadowhunters in an effort to save her mother. This means breaking the law, several laws to be exact, which is punishable by death. Simon has been thrown in prison because of his weird abilities, and Jace is pushing her away for reasons she does not know or understand. Clary finds herself oddly drawn to Sebastian, a somewhat shady character who is a relative of friends of the Lightwood family. All of this going on in a young girl's life naturally makes for some drama, but WAIT: SPOILER ALERT : turns out, Clary and Jace are not siblings, so she no longer has to feel guilty about lusting after him, but must now try to figure out how he feels about her. Oh, and then there are her new supernatural powers to learn to deal with - talk about stress! I gave this book 4/5 stars because although I loved it, it was a little more dragged out than necessary and just not my favorite of the series. 

4. City of Fallen Angels

In this book The Mortal War has ended, Jocelyn is no longer comatose, and Clary has begun her official Shadowhunters training at the Institute in NYC. With the majority of the drama temporarily on the back burner, I loved getting to see Clary develop as a Shadowhunters, and to see the relationship between her and Jace continue to grow (though of course, it's never less than complicated). Soon Jace begins to pull away from her and she doesn't understand why - until she discovers that some of her actions could lead to the loss of everything she holds dear, especially Jace. I LOVED this book - it was probably my favourite of the series (thus far), and I gave it 5/5 stars.

5. City of Lost Souls

At the end of the fourth book, Jace and scumbag Sebastian went missing after the greater demon Lilith's return to power. In this book, we see Clary go about her tirelessly pursuit to find Jace, but once she does, she finds Jace is not how he used to be. Turns out he and the evil Sebastian have been bound together, so that one cannot be harmed without harming the other. Clary needs to find a way to bring her Jace back to her before it's too late, and, given that The Clave is searching everywhere for Sebastian, intent on killing him she doesn't have much time. This book shows how truely Clary loves Jace, and the lengths to which she is willing to go to save him. Again, a sucker for romance, I much prefer the interpersonal aspects of these books to the action and adventure scenes. I also gave this book 5/5 stars. 


I have to say, I just LOVE that these books are set in New York City. I visited there in November; it's a beautiful, mysterious city, the perfect setting for these books. Also, can we talk about how beautiful the covers of these books are? I love each and every one of them, and I regret that my entire series is not hardcover as it would look much nicer on my shelf. Alas, while in the beginning I was skeptical about reading these (I generally don't enjoy books about angels/vampires/werewolves) the characters in this series stole my heart and I think The Mortal Instruments is one of the best series I've read in a long time. I absolutely cannot wait for the final book to be released in May!


If you've read these books please tell me what you thought of them and which one was your favorite. Also if you've read the Infernal Devices series, also by Cassandra Clare, I'd love to hear your thoughts on those as I've not yet read them.

Thanks for reading ! 

Pin of the Week: Cute and Easy Kitchen Decor



For this week's Pin of the Week I have chosen these super cute framed kitchen puns. These are available on Etsy from Blue Moon Designs for just $23! 

I think these would be SO adorable in any kitchen, especially in young people's first homes, and I'll definitely be looking to get these for my apartment when I go away for school. 

Check them out here: https://www.etsy.com/listing/121588183/kitchen-collection-set-of-four-8x10s 

Dewey's 24-Hour Readathon


Hello everyone! 

As I was surfing YouTube last night I stumbled upon a video posted by Catriona (LittleBookOwl) about the worldwide readathon happening tomorrow, April 26th. 
The point of the readathon is simply to read for 24 hours straight. Of course if you wanted, there are challenges to complete and prizes to be won, but I will simply be reading because I want to, with no particular goals in mind.

Marissa Meyer, author of The Lunar Chronicles, will be reading for charity during this readathon; she offers more insight and information in this blog post: http://www.marissameyer.com/blogtype/24-hours-of-reading-for-charity/
As well, here is the link to the website, where you can sign up to read: 

http://24hourreadathon.com/tag/april-2014/

Of course, you don't need to sign up, but it's completely free and it's nice to feel officially included.

For this readathon, I will be finishing up Impulse by Ellen Hopkins, which tells the story of three teens in a treatment centre who have all tried to "off themselves". I'm currently about halfway through this book, and though I can't say I'm loving it, it's an okay read. 


Next, I will be reading Night by Elie Wiesel, which I have to read for my English class. This is the recounting of real events that Wiesel experienced as a young Jewish boy in Auschwitz as well as a number of other concentration camps during Hitler's power trip. 


Lastly, since Night is such a short read, I am hoping to possibly start reading Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult. I've read a number of books by this author but it's been awhile since my last. I always love her books but they are long, tedious reads with lots of information to swallow and retain. I believe this book the story of a middle-aged woman and how she uses music to cope with the difficulties of life? That may be wrong, it's been a long time since I read the synopsis for this book.


Anywho, thank you for reading, as always, and I hope I've encouraged you to consider participating in tomorrow's readathon! If you do decide to participate, please be sure to comment here and tell me what you'll be reading, or tweet me at @_withsugarontop , and I promise i will reply. 

Happy reading everyone!

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Spring Book Haul (#1)






Hello everyone! Today I would like to share with you the books I have bought/received in the past little while :)

1. The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine
Not gonna lie, I bought this book mostly because the spine is in my favorite shade of pink, and for the cutesy couple photo on the cover. From what I gather, the book is about a girl who saves this boy Grayson's life, and then they fall in love - sounds interesting maybe? Whatever, the cover was cute.

2. The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith
Another book that caught my eye because of the cute couple on the cover - I am shallow, yes, but I'm over it. I first heard about this book when I was looking at The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by the same author, which I intended to get this weekend but couldn't find at Coles...sad times ensue. This book is about a couple who meet by chance when an elevator gets stuck, and then continue to pursue a long distance relationship as they move elsewhere in the world. I've heard good things so my expectations for this books are quite high!

3. I'll See You Again by Jackie Hance
This book was recommended to me by my mother, who read the ebook version last year. This is the tragic memoir of a mother who lost her three young daughters in a car accident, with her sister-in-law behind the wheel, and how she found the strength to forgive, accept, and move forward. I'm sure this book will mean several cry-fests, but I can't wait to read it.

4. Pride Over Pity by Kailyn Lowry
As a long time lover of the show Teen Mom 2 on MTV, I am familiar with the glimpses of Kailyn's life that are aired on the show. This book, her memoir, shows a deeper look at how she made it to where she is today - from lonely, unstable, and pregnant teen to thriving young mother and wife. I fell in love with this girl on Teen Mom 2 and I can't wait to fall in love with her again while reading this! (special thanks to the boyfriend for getting me this for Easter)

5. Baby Bumps by Nicole Polizzi (formerly known as Snooki)
Who in this world is NOT familiar with this amazing woman? Former party girl and ring leader in the crazy escapades of the crew on MTV's Jersey Shore, Nicole has come full circle and is now a devoted and loving mother to her sweet baby, Lorenzo, successful businesswoman, and is the healthiest she's ever been. Her no-holds-barred approach on life, her determination, and her passion for leopard print make me wish to be like her, and I can't wait to read her account of becoming a new mom! (Again, thanks boyfriend for getting me this book<3)

6. How to Love by Katie Cutugno 
Again, I mostly wanted to buy this book because of the simple but adorable cover (oops, sorry not sorry). From what I can tell this book is about a girl who gets left behind, alone and pregnant, in a small town after her boyfriend ditches her. When he returns to town she claims to want nothing to do with him, but quickly ends up falling for him all over again. I haven't heard much about this book but I'm hoping I'll enjoy it.

7. Family Pictures by Jane Green
I've heard nothing about this book but my mom picked it up at walmart for me, so I'm willing to give it a try. What I gather from the synopsis on the back cover is that two girls,who come from homes with ever-travelling dads and unhappy mothers, meet at university and become fast friends, only to find out some abhorrent secret that affects both families. It also says something about not being able to trust your loved ones, so I wonder if maybe the secret is that this guy lives a double life? Not a clue, but I look forward to finding out!

8. Heaven Is for Real by Todd Burpo
Another incredible real-life story, this book is a father's account of his young son's experience with angels and Heaven. After the little boy nearly dies during an emergency appendectomy, he later recounts to his parents his encounters with the angels, Heaven, and possibly God himself ? This story sounds so so inspiring and fascinating to me, and I cannot wait to read it before the movie adaptation is released. 

9. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
I feel this book requires no little explanation or synopsis. If you are not familiar with this book, your English or Literature teachers have failed you. I read this classic last year for school and fell in love with the way it made you think about the type of person you are and wish to be, and about how you treat others. I feel that absolutely everyone needs to read this, and own it so they may reread it as necessary. HOWEVER I will suggest you never watch the movie as it's actually quite crappy and, as is usually the case, does not begin to give the book due justice.

10-14. The Game of Thrones Series by George R. R. Martin
These books came as a boxed set (yay!) from Chapters, where I was fortunate enough to order them for just about $35! In order they are:
1. A Game of Thrones
2. A Clash of Kings
3. A Storm of Swords
4. A Dance with Dragons
5. A Feast for Crows
I believe this series may actually not be called Game of Thrones, but rather Songs of Fire and Ice or something similar? Anywho, I really have not the faintest idea of what these books are about, other than that a lot of people die. I have, however, heard nothing but praise for both the books and television series (which no, I have not watched). A friend recommended these to me after she finished reading them, and said that since I loved the Harry Potter series so much I would probably like these. Given their length I think I'll definitely take a while to get through them (this summer maybe?) but I am excited to see what all the hype is about!


As always, thank you for reading. If you have read any of these books PLEASE let me know what you thought, good or bad. 

Good night and happy reading! :)

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Book Review: Looking for Alaska by John Green

http://johngreenbooks.com
http://fishingboatproceeds.tumblr.com

Goodreads Synopsis:
Before. Miles "Pudge" Halter's whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the "Great Perhaps" (Fran├žois Rabelais, poet) even more. He heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.
After. Nothing is ever the same.

221 pages
4.23 average rating on Goodreads
Published: 2005
Genre: YA, Realistic Fiction, Sob Continually Throughout because The Feels

May I just start this review by saying, WHY DID NO ONE PREPARE ME FOR THE FEELS THIS BOOK WILL CAUSE YOU TO EXPERIENCE - WHY?
Looking for Alaska is the first John Green book that I've read, and woah....mind = blown. This book is beautifully written, with just the right amount of quirk and comedy to balance the heavily dramatic topics that are present in this book. If you ask me, John Green has introduced us to a whole new style of writing and I LOVE IT. 
The characters in this book are so realistic and so well-developed that you feel as if you know them personally, as if they are your friends....and more than once throughout you wish they were your friends. I got strongly emotionally attached to all of there characters in this novel early on; I love that Alaska was such a strong, independent female character - witty and impulsive, she took crap from no one, - the type of girl everyone wishes they could be.
This book requires solitude and a plethora of tissues, which nobody warned me about (how did I manage to never get spoiled about the plot?). I spent the first half of the book mildly irritated that there were no chapters but rather "x days before"....like what the hell did the before mean? Before what? Then I finally turned the page to after, and immediately wished I could go back. I was NOT prepared to deal with what happened, and in fact I am still far from ok with it. That being said, this book makes you both laugh and cry, often within the same paragraph, so thank you for that John Green.
This book makes you think differently about the world and about the people you choose to face it with. It changes your perspective on life, and makes you want to live in the moment, and to go chase your own Great Perhaps.
In short, this book will both elate and depress you, make you laugh hysterically and sob uncontrollably. Looking for Alaska is a realistic book about teens and personal growth as they leave home to become their own person, and to discover their own Great Perhaps. 

I give this book 5/5 stars because I ABSOFRICKENLUTELY loved it! I will however warn you that there are some pretty mature topics (sexually and otherwise) in here, so maybe if you're under the age of thirteen you may want to wait a while to read it. Otherwise I absolutely recommend this book, my favorite read of 2014 thus far!

I would love to hear your opinion on Looking for Alaska, as well as your thoughts on any of John Green's work. Thanks for reading!! 

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip




Hello Everyone! Today I am most excited to share with you a recipe that I found ages ago, and made for the first time tonight; Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip! (And yes, it is every bit as delicious as it sounds).

YOU WILL NEED:
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup icing (powdered) sugar
- 1 cup mini chocolate chips
- 8 oz. package of cream cheese, softened

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Melt butter in a saucepan over low to medium heat. Gradually stir in brown sugar; stir until fully combined and the mixture has begun to boil. Remove from heat and allow to cool. 

2. Using a mixer, beat cream cheese until fluffy. On low speed, gradually add icing sugar. Once fully combined, continue to beat for 1-2 minutes.

3. Slowly add and mix in the brown sugar and butter mixture. When fully combined, continue beating for another minute or so.

4. Using a spatula, fold the mini chocolate chips into the mixture.

5. Serve cool, with a selection of dipping options (pretzels, strawberries, animal crackers, etc).

 
Again, I owe my pitiful photo quality to my currently lacking a useable laptop.





Brought this to a baby shower tonight and it went over incredibly well! I'll definitely be making this again in the future.

Enjoy!! 



Tuesday, 22 April 2014

My Favorite Quotes from Looking for Alaska


I've spent the last two days reading this book whenever possible, being essentially unable to put it down. Looking for Alaska by John Green is not a book you read, so much as experience. 
This book caused me to think and feel things that no book ever has before, as it is so damn realistic. 
I have not as of yet recovered emotionally from the book enough to write a review, but that will hopefully be coming within the week. For now, I leave you with a list of my favorite quotes from the novel, the ones that inspired me and the ones that made me think and the ones that made me cry:

1. What is the nature of being a person? What is the best way to go about being a person? How did we come to be, and what will become of us when we are no longer? In short: What are the rules of this game, and how might we best play it? - Page 32

2. Imagining the future is a kind of nostalgia...you spend your whole life stuck in the labyrinth, thinking about how you will escape it one day, and how awesome it will be, and imagining that future keeps you going, but you never do it. You just use the future to escape the present. - Page 55

3. Just like that. From a hundred miles an hour to asleep in a nanosecond. I wanted so badly to lie down next to her on the couch, to wrap my arms around her and sleep. Not fuck, like in those movies. Not even have sex. Just sleep together, in the most innocent sense of the phrase. But I lacked the courage and she had a boyfriend and I was gawky and she was gorgeous and I was hopelessly boring and she was endlessly fascinating. So I walked back to my room and collapsed on the bottom bunk, thinking that if people were rain, I was  drizzle and she was a hurricane. - Page 88

4. People, I thought,  wanted security. They couldn't bear the idea of death being a big black nothing, couldn't bear the thought of their loved ones not existing, and couldn't even imagine themselves not existing. I finally decided that people believed in an afterlife because they couldn't bear not to. - Page 100

5. That is the fear: I have lost something important, and I cannot find it, and I need it. It is fear like if someone lost his glasses and went to the glasses store and they told him that the world had run out of glasses and he would just have to do without. - Page 144

***SPOILERS TO THE PLOT AHEAD***

6. And what is an "instant" death anyways? How long is an instant? Is it one second? Ten? The pain of those seconds must have been awful as her heart burst and her lungs collapsed and there was no air and no blood to her brain and only raw panic. What the hell is instant? Nothing is instant. Instant rice takes five minutes, instant pudding an hour. I doubt that an instant of blinding pain feels particularly instantaneous. - Page 146

7. "You can't just make me different and then leave...because I was fine before, Alaska. 
I was fine with just me, and last words, and school friends, and you can't just make me different and then die." For she had embodied the Great Perhaps - she had proven to me that it was worth it to leave behind my minor life for grander maybes, and now she was gone, and with her my faith in perhaps. You can't just make yourself matter and then die, Alaska, because now I am irretrievably different. - Page 172

8. Everything that comes together falls apart. The cells and organs and systems that make you you - they came together, grew together, and so must fall apart. The Buddha knew one thing science didn't prove for millennia after his death: Entropy increases. Things fall apart. - Page 196

9. We are all going, I thought, and it applies to turtles and turtlenecks, Alaska the girl and Alaska the place, because nothing can last, not even the earth itself. The Buddha said that suffering was caused by desire, we'd learned, and that the cessation of desire meant the cessation of suffering. When you stopped wishing things wouldn't fall apart, you'd stop suffer go when they did. - Page 196

10. There were so many of us who would have to live with things done and left undone that day. Things that did not go right, things that seemed okay at the time because we could not see the future. If only we could see the endless string of consequences that result from our smallest actions. But we can't know better until knowing better is useless. - Page 218

11. I believe now that we are greater than the sum of our parts.... There is a part of her greater than the sum of her knowable parts. And that part has to go somewhere, because it cannot be destroyed.... We cannot be born, and we cannot die. Like all energy, we can only change shapes and sizes and manifestations. But that part of us greater than the sum of our parts cannot begin and cannot end, and so it cannot fail. - Page 220/221

12. Thomas Edison's last words were "It's very beautiful over there." I don't know where there is, but I believe it's somewhere, and I hope it's beautiful. - Page 221


If anyone has other quotes from Looking for Alaska that meant something to them, please share them with me! I would also love to hear other peoples' opinions on this novel.

Until next time, thanks for reading! 

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Pin of the Week: How to Plan 1 Year of Blog Posts



Again I apologize for the terrible photo quality as of late, but until my laptop is fixed, screenshots and iPad photos will unfortunately have to do.

Anyway, here is my choice for this week's Pin of the Week, a helpful post entitled "How to Plan One Year of Blog Post Ideas" written by the one and only Adrienne over at http://www.themommymess.com 

As a total newbie to blogging, still unsure of the exact direction I want my blog to take, I found her planning tips very helpful to come up with some seasonal blog posts for at least the next few months. For example: May = Mother's Day, Graduation. June = Father's Day, End of School Year. 

Whether you are new to blogging like myself, or an experienced blogger who still lacks some organization skills, I highly encourage you to check out this lovely post.

Thanks for reading, enjoy your day everyone :)

Link to Post: http://www.themommymess.com/2013/12/how-to-plan-one-year-of-blog-post-ideas.html

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Peep Sunflower Cake



So unfortunately due to issues with my laptop, this is the only decent photo I can access to post right now, and it isn't even of the full cake! I assure you that when the laptop is up and running again I will upload all of the photos to Instagram, if not directly on the blog.
Anywho, I got the idea for this cake from (surprise!) Pinterest; here's the webpage that the pin brought me to: http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/peeps-sunflower-cake?crlt.pid=camp.rjXcJmm05yLz

Of course I tweaked the recipe and made this cake my own way, based really on only the photo from Pinterest. Here's the process and recipe I used for my version of this gorgeous treat!

For the cake:
1. Make a chocolate cake mix (yes, I use cake mix) according to box directions, bake in a 9 inch round pan, allow to cool.
Hint: I usually add an extra egg, as well as a teaspoon of flavoured coffee creamer (in this case I used Mocha Fudge creamer) to make the cake richer and moister.

For the icing:
To ice this cake I started with my base vanilla buttercream:
1. In a mixer, thoroughly combine 5 cups icing sugar, 1 cup butter (softened), 1 tsp. vanilla extract (although who really measures their vanilla?), and 1 cup of whipping cream (found in small cartons next to coffee creamer at the grocery store).
2. Add heaping tablespoons of Nutella, mixing each one into the icing completely before adding the next. Do this until you have achieved desired chocolate flavour and color. (I used probably 6-7 tbs.).
NOTE: You will likely have quite a bit of icing left over, so unless you have another intended use for it, you may wish to halve the recipe (you will still have plenty!).

To decorate:
1. Spread a thick, even layer of the icing onto the cake. Make sure it is level on top, and that the icing is smooth all around.
2. Place literal HANDFULS of chocolate chips in the middle of the cake, and spread towards the edges. The layer of chips should be thick enough that icing does not show through.
3. Place a generous dollop of icing on the bottom of each Peep, then press it firmly on the edge of the cake, tail facing outward (if anyone is wondering, I used 25 peeps for my cake).
4. Continue this until the entire edge of the cake has been filled with Peep "flower petals".
5. Fill in any spaces visible on top of the cake with chocolate chips.

I think this cake is super adorable and can't wait to serve it after dinner tomorrow on Easter Sunday.
I am SO pleased with how this cake turned out!  If anyone tries this cake please let me know how good it was on the scale of deliciousness. I hope everyone has a happy, fun-and-chocolate-filled Easter :)

Friday, 18 April 2014

My Spring Break TBR!

First of all, yes I am aware how grossly late our spring break is this year. I am also painfully aware that our school is about the only one in our province that is not leaving today on some super awesome international adventure (*cries*). That being said, I am looking forward to a ten day break from school, to catch up on some reading, some much needed sleep, and to focus on getting this blog up and running. My current plan is to make a post everyday of break, excluding the two days I will be out of town. 

The two books I am for sure reading over spring break are:

1. Looking for Alaska by John Green

Goodreads description: 
Before. Miles "Pudge" Halter's whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the "Great Perhaps" (Fran├žois Rabelais, poet) even more. He heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.

After. Nothing is ever the same
.

This will be my first time reading a book by John Green, and I am SO excited about it! I, as well as everyone else on the planet, have heard endless praise for John Green's writing, so I can't wait to finally see what all the fuss is about! Of course I intend to review this book as soon as I finish it. If anyone has read this already please do leave a comment below and tell me what you thought of it.


2. Impulse by Ellen Hopkins

Goodreads description:

Sometimes you don't wake up. But if you happen to, you know things will never be the same.

Three lives, three different paths to the same destination: Aspen Springs, a psychiatric hospital for those who have attempted the ultimate act -- suicide.

Vanessa is beautiful and smart, but her secrets keep her answering the call of the blade.

Tony, after suffering a painful childhood, can only find peace through pills.

And Conner, outwardly, has the perfect life. But dig a little deeper and find a boy who is in constant battle with his parents, his life, himself.

In one instant each of these young people decided enough was enough. They grabbed the blade, the bottle, the gun -- and tried to end it all. Now they have a second chance, and just maybe, with each other's help, they can find their way to a better life -- but only if they're strong and can fight the demons that brought them here in the first place.

I've just finished reading and reviewing Glass by this amazing author, and gave it 5/5 stars in my review which you can find here: http://with-sugar.blogspot.ca/2014/04/book-review-glass-by-ellen-hopkins.html . I've really enjoyed the two books I've read by Hopkins thus far (I think it's awesome that she writes in verse) and I can't wait to read another. Hopefully it will live up to the high expectations I have for it - if anyone has read this already I would love to hear how you felt about it, or about other books by this author. 



I know that two books in ten days doesn't seem like much, especially given how short Looking for Alaska seems to be, but I am going to be super super busy with blog posts, Easter festivities and such. Also, I am planning to purchase a few new books next week and would like to read at least one of those before continuing with the books on my shelf.


Thank you to everyone who has been reading my posts, please feel free to comment on them, as well as share them with others. I'm new to the blogging community so if you like what you see here please spread the word.

Hope everyone is enjoying their Good Friday! :)

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Book Review: Glass by Ellen Hopkins


Glass by Ellen Hopkins 

http://www.ellenhopkins.com

Goodreads description: Crank. Glass. Ice. Crystal. Whatever you call it, it's all the same: a monster. And once it's got hold of you, this monster will never let you go. 

Kristina thinks she can control it. Now with a baby to care for, she's determined to be the one deciding when and how much, the one calling the shots. But the monster is too strong, and before she knows it, Kristina is back in its grips. She needs the monster to keep going, to face the pressures of day-to-day life. She needs it to feel alive.

Once again the monster takes over Kristina's life and she will do anything for it, including giving up the one person who gives her the unconditional love she craves -- her baby.

The sequel to Crank, this is the continuing story of Kristina and her descent back to hell. Told in verse, it's a harrowing and disturbing look at addiction and the damage it inflicts. 


681 pages; 4.29 average rating on Goodreads. Published 2007. Genre: YA, Drama.

This book gave me chills from beginning to end. A fast-paced read with some heavy content that was beautifully written in verse, making it a quick read. I read Crank, the first book of this series last fall, and really enjoyed it. From the very first page I already liked Glass infinitely better. In this book we saw Kristina go from recovering addict attempting to get things together and care for her new baby, to becoming completely intertwined once again with "the monster", crystal meth, and doing no matter what it takes to get it.

I found myself really connecting with Kristina, caring about her as though she were a real person, and rooting for her to find her way again throughout the entire book. There were times at which my heart was breaking for her (when she spent Christmas alone, realized Trey didn't love her as she loved him, realized her baby no longer sees her as mom, etc.), but there were other times I felt she deserved the sad state that she had brought upon herself.

The reason this book was so easy to connect to is also the reason it is so terrifying - this book is so very realistic, and portrays the mind of an addict and their though processes to a tee. In actuality, this book is loosely based on the author's daughter, and her experience with meth. I enjoyed that the book showed how Kristina related to many other characters (her mom, siblings, step dad, baby, etc.) and how her meth addiction had an enormous effect on all of these. 

I feel that addiction and it's impact on the user and those in the user's life can be a very hard topic to accurately portray in a novel - to get inside the minds of the user and their loved ones, to know how they feel about the situation. That being said, Ellen Hopkins does a beautiful job through free verse and concrete poetry of letting the reader inside the minds of Kristina and her loved ones,

This book, though heart wrenching to read at times, is beautifully written and teaches a wonderful lesson of how quickly and drastically things can change with just one bad decision, and how what starts out as "experimenting" or "just this once" can quickly become an addiction. I think this is an important book for all young people to read as they go through the period of their lives in which they are regularly exposed to difficult situations, so they can see in-depth the consequences of making the wrong decisions.

I gave this book 5/5 stars, and sincerely recommend it to anyone and everyone. I look forward to reading more books by Ellen Hopkins and if anyone has any suggestions as to which books I should check out, they would be greatly appreciated! 

Thanks for reading, and please feel free to share your opinions on this book <3

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Book Review: Just Listen by Sarah Dessen


Just Listen by Sarah Dessen



Goodreads description: 

Last year, Annabel was "the girl who has everything" - at least that's the part she played in the television commercial for Kopf's Department Store.

This year, she's the girl who has nothing: no best friend because mean-but-exciting Sophie dropped her, no peace at home since her older sister became anorexic, and no one to sit with at lunch. Until she meets Owen Armstrong.

Talk, dark, and music-obsessed, own is a reformed bad boy with a commitment to truth-telling. With Owen's help, maybe Annabel can face what happened the night she and Sophie stopped being friends. 


383 pages
4.09 average rating on Goodreads
Published: 2006
Genre: YA/Contemporary/Family Drama/Romance 


I've had this book sitting on my shelf for ages now, and having just finished all of the (released) books in the super long and intense Mortal Instruments series (which, by the way, I loved! - reviews coming soon!) I figured now was a perfect time for a quick, easy read.

As a long time Sarah Dessen fan, I knew generally what I was getting into here - the seemingly perfect girl has a not so perfect personal life, but then some boy comes along and makes everything alright. I have to say though that I was pleasantly surprised to find that Just Listen focused more on Annabel and her relationship with her family, more so than the relationship between her and Owen. 

* A warning to prospective readers: this book does touch on the serious topics of eating disorders and rape, which may be upsetting or triggering for some people. *

Annabel is seventeen and beautiful, what more could one want, right? She's been modelling since before she could walk, following in her sisters' footsteps and giving her mother a way to spend her time, in an attempt to keep her from regressing back into her depression. This is the life that Annabel was once content with - happy, even, back when she had friends.

Since the beginning of the summer though, Annabel is different. She and her "best friend" Sophie are no longer speaking, and she ends up hurling in the bushes everytime she sees Sophie's boyfriend, Will.  At home, her sister Whitney sits in her room, silently recovering from her eating disorder. Meanwhile, their parents are doing their best to keep things all together, and to portray the perfect family image to people who glance in the glass dining room windows as they drive by. 

You could say Annabel is pretty stressed - she eats alone everyday at school, waiting for the school day to end so she can either get to a modelling job (where she doesn't want to be) or go home and navigate whatever new wave of tension she finds therein. 

However, things soon begin to change for Annabel as she and the hopelessly honest, mysterious, music obsessed Owen Armstrong gradually become friends.  At first Annabel is nervous to trust the reformed bad boy who claims he never lies. Their relationship has it's ups and downs but Annabel soon learns that Owen may be just what she needs - to help her learn to "don't think, don't judge, just listen" and to help her finally put the past behind her and become the person she's always wanted to be.

I gave this book 3/5 stars. I really enjoyed the plot of the book, but felt that I didn't really connect with Annabel. Also, I felt Owen's character was a little underdeveloped, as was the romance between he and Annabel, which I would've liked to see more of before the book ended. Overall this wasn't my favorite Sarah Dessen book and I finished it a little underwhelmed. That being said, Just Listen was an overall quick and enjoyable read that I would recommend for summer or a beach vacation. Kudos to Sarah Dessen for another enjoyable read <3.

I'd love to hear what you guys thought of this book! Please tell me your opinion of the book/my review, as well as any suggestions of other Sarah Dessen books I should read, or books by similar authors. 
Thanks for reading :) 

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Pin of the Week! Cadbury Creme Egg Cupcakes



With Easter coming up next weekend, Pinterest is filled with baked goods of all kinds. As a lover of Cadbury's trademark Creme eggs, as well as any cupcake that has a surprise inside, these little cuties immediately caught my eye. 

A simple chocolate cupcake with an egg of deliciousness laid on top of the batter pre-baking. I would probably ice these with my own vanilla buttercream, but any icing will do as long as it's some pastel color, of course! 

Recipe and photo came from http://pizzazzerie.com/desserts-food-2/cadbury-egg-easter-cupcakes/ (Pizzazzerie blog), which I very much encourage you to check out for a bunch of other awesome posts,  recipes and otherwise! 

Thank you for reading, & happy baking! :)

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Welcome!!

Hello everyone! 

I've been considering starting a blog for a while now, for a few different reasons. 

Reading has been a favorite hobby of mine for as long as I can remember, but unfortunately none of my friends share my love of books. I'm hoping to use this blog as a place to talk about books and to hear the opinions of others who love reading as well! 

I also love baking, and it's a hobby I continually try to improve on. I would love to share recipes and photos of my creations with others, as well as to see what other people are making. 

As a junior in high school, my life is often very busy. I volunteer with several different groups, work, babysit, spend time with friends, and of course try to fit in some reading or baking whenever possible! I am intending to apply to nursing school in the fall,  and my eventual hope is to become a doctor...I may occasionally post about things going on in my day to day life, so stay tuned for that :)

So with that being said, on this blog you may find any combination of book/movie reviews, movie trailers, reading challenges, TBRs, recipes, photos of things I bake posts about the goings-on in my life, and things that humor me :) My posting will likely get sporadic at times so please bear with me, but I'll try to keep things as regular as possible.

Thanks for stopping by my blog!