Bookish Recipe: Kingdom of Ash cupcakes

koacupcakesSomething I’ve wanted to begin doing on my blog for a while now is combine two of my favorites hobbies: baking and reading. When I first began planning all the bookish recipes I would want to post here I knew the first one would have to be… Kingdom of Ash cupcakes to help cure the hangover everyone is feeling right now. I cannot be the only one that feels like such a huge mess after finishing the final book in such a wonderful series! I adore these books and I give them credit for my love of YA fantasy which is why this recipe felt fitting to be the beginning of something I’m really excited for!

Ingredients for Cupcakes:

  • Four Large Eggs
  • 1/3 cup of vegetable oil
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 Chocolate cake mix
  • chocolate chips

Ingredients for Icing:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • yellow food coloring

Instructions for Cupcakes:

IMG_6915Despite these cupcakes coming from cake batter, the change in other ingredients makes all the difference between what typically comes from a box mix and creations that taste like they’re from a bakery. Beat together the cake mix, eggs, vegetable oil, and milk until the mixture turns into a batter.

After the batter is nice and thoroughly mixed began pouring it evenly into 24 cupcake liners. If you don’t have any special tools for pouring pour two spoonfuls into each liner until all are full. Then go back with the batter you have left and distribute it among all the cupcakes. I find doing this leads to the most even cupcakes! A lot of times, as you can see in the photos, this is a huge mess for me. I can never stop some of the batter from spilling over!

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Next, sprinkle a few chocolate chips onto every cupcake. This will make the cupcakes really rich and will also give them a nice unique flavor. I normally don’t put more than a few in each one.  I always add the chocolate chips on top before baking because if you mix them into the batter they will sink and won’t be well distributed in the cupcakes!

Here’s the fun part, getting these chocolaty cupcakes into the oven. Bake the cupcakes for 16-18 minutes, or until finished at 350 degrees. When the cupcakes are done set them out to cool then begin working on the icing

Instructions for Icing:

Beat your room temperature butter and powdered sugar. Start by mixing it at a slow speed, otherwise the sugar will go everywhere. Mix until it begins to come together. I find that using butter that’s closer to melting (but not actually quite liquid) works best for the icing coming together. After the two are mixed add in the milk and vanilla. Mix the icing for another minute or until it comes together. If it’s not coming together slowly add more milk until it becomes the texture you want! The last step before icing the cupcakes is too add yellow food coloring. Give the icing a few drops and mix, continuing this process until the icing matches the yellow of Kingdom of Ash‘s cover.

When it comes to icing the cupcakes, use a piping bag and a large tip. If you don’t have any tips to use there’s an easy solution; all you need is a large one gallon plastic bag. Instead of using a tip, cut a small hole in the corner of the bag and fill it with icing. Pipe the icing out of the whole and it will still look really amazing!

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Last is the best part… eating them! These cupcakes work wonders for curing the Kingdom of Ash hangover we’re all suffering through. If you’d like you can also sprinkle more chocolate chips onto the icing or add sprinkles if you’d like!

 

 

Step-by-step instructions:

  1. Preheat over to 350 degress
  2. Beat together the cake mix, milk, oil, and eggs until smooth
  3. Line cupcake pans and pour the batter evenly into them. The sprinkle a few chocolate chips onto every cupcake
  4. Bake the cupcakes for 16-18 minutes or until fully done. Pull them out and let them cool for at least an hour before icing

 

  1. Warm butter to room temperature, either by leaving the sticks out for an hour or microwaving for a short period of time
  2. Beat the butter and sugar together until smooth.
  3. Mix in the milk and vanilla into the butter & sugar mixture. Beat until smooth.
  4. Add in several drops of yellow food coloring and mix. Continue the process until the icing is the perfect Kingdom of Ash yellow
  5. Once the cupcakes have been cooled, pipe the icing onto the cupcakes

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Book Review: Kingdom of Ash

kingdomofash1Author: Sarah J Maas

Publisher: Bloomsbary

Genre: YA fantasy

Pages: 980

Rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis:

“Aelin has risked everything to save her people―but at a tremendous cost. Locked within an iron coffin by the Queen of the Fae, Aelin must draw upon her fiery will as she endures months of torture. Aware that yielding to Maeve will doom those she loves keeps her from breaking, though her resolve begins to unravel with each passing day…

With Aelin captured, Aedion and Lysandra remain the last line of defense to protect Terrasen from utter destruction. Yet they soon realize that the many allies they’ve gathered to battle Erawan’s hordes might not be enough to save them. Scattered across the continent and racing against time, Chaol, Manon, and Dorian are forced to forge their own paths to meet their fates. Hanging in the balance is any hope of salvation―and a better world.

And across the sea, his companions unwavering beside him, Rowan hunts to find his captured wife and queen―before she is lost to him forever.

As the threads of fate weave together at last, all must fight, if they are to have a chance at a future. Some bonds will grow even deeper, while others will be severed forever in the explosive final chapter of the Throne of Glass series.

This review will be completely, 100% spoiler free in regards of the events of Kingdom of Ash. I’m not going to be putting spoily thoughts out on my blog for a long time.

My heart has been in pain for over a year now as I’ve waited for this book. I’ve spent so much time wishing for Aelin’s safety, wondering what would happen with my favorite ships, and crying over the characters I assumed would meet their deaths before Kingdom of Ash even began…. but more than anything my heart is heavy now. It feels weird and uncomfortable to acknowledge that a series that has been in my life for two years is coming to an end.

This book was massive, I mean it’s 980 pages but it’s weighed down even more by its repetitive fight scenes. The book is very action packed but the fight scenes got dull and boring, I skimmed most of them. There were easily one hundred or more pages of fighting that could have been cut down a bit to make up in places this book lacked, such as the relationships.

The most disappointing thing I can say about this book is the lack of romance and relationships.  Many of the characters don’t have time together, or they do and it’s only hinted at. One relationship in particular go practically NO PAGE TIME. It makes me so angry that in this final conclusion I didn’t get time to enjoy the relationship they have. It’s the final book and I’m sad to know I will never see any more of their relationship again since ya know… it’s the end.

I feel like Sarah forgot a few things in the end. There were certain scenes I was anticipating that never came, which is just plain disappointing. I know Sarah said while on tour that the original book had 1008 pages and they had to cut it down to 980, which makes me wonder what was in all the pages they cut out. I’d like to hope it’s all the scenes I was missing, all the relationships I wanted more of. But I guess I’ll never know now.

All the disappointment aside, this book was amazing. It’s not close to be my favorite of the series but it was interesting to see just how far this series has come and how it’s changed. Reflecting back on these books is like looking back on a lifetime. I feels unreal. It’s beautiful to go through this story that’s changed so much and come to an ending. So much has changed since the beginning which made me SO NOSTALGIC the entire time. I was crying throughout this book just when I thought about how things have changed for these characters that are so close to my heart.

I cried a lot in this book. I was crying through the second half pretty much for so many reasons. For the writing, for the plot, for the characters, even for how scarred I was to turn the page. It’s a hard novel to read for anyone who loves this series.

All in all… I’m thankful I read these books. I’m glad they helped me grow my love for YA fantasy and I’m glad they’ve helped me grow as a person. It does hurt to say goodbye to this series but I know they’re always sitting on my shelf reading for a reread when I need one.

PSA: Do not read this book in public, especially if you’re an easy crier! Take a week off from your life and read it on the couch with a mug full of tea nearby. After you finish watch sappy romance movies until you feel better.

Waiting on Wednesday: King of Fools

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that is all about sharing and putting a spotlight on upcoming unreleased books that readers cannot wait to get their hands on. My TBR pile is overrun with books that haven’t been released yet, but my choice for this week that I’m specifically looking forward to is…

 

King of Fools by Amanda Foody

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Although I had some mixed feelings about the first book in this series, Ace of Shades, I am really looking forward to how the story continues from the second book forward. I think the world Amanda Foody has created is fascinating and I can’t wait to read about the future of this story when it comes out in April of 2019!

Synopsis:

“On the quest to find her missing mother, prim and proper Enne Salta became reluctant allies with Levi Glaisyer, the city’s most famous con man. Saving his life in the Shadow Game forced Enne to assume the identity of Seance, a mysterious underworld figure. Now, with the Chancellor of the Republic dead and bounties on both their heads, she and Levi must play a dangerous game of crime and politics…with the very fate of New Reynes at stake.

Thirsting for his freedom and the chance to build an empire, Levi enters an unlikely partnership with Vianca Augustine’s estranged son. Meanwhile, Enne remains trapped by the mafia donna’s binding oath, playing the roles of both darling lady and cunning street lord, unsure which side of herself reflects the truth.

As Enne and Levi walk a path of unimaginable wealth and opportunity, new relationships and deadly secrets could quickly lead them into ruin. And when unforeseen players enter the game, they must each make an impossible choice: To sacrifice everything they’ve earned in order to survive…

Or die as legends”

This book sounds even darker than it’s processor and I’m not so patiently waiting to see where the story goes

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Book Review: Little Monsters

littlemonsters1Author: Kara Thomas

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Genre: YA mystery

Pages: 329

Rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis:

“Kacey is the new girl in Broken Falls. When she moved in with her father, she stepped into a brand-new life. A life with a stepbrother, a stepmother, and strangest of all, an adoring younger half sister.

Kacey’s new life is eerily charming compared with the wild highs and lows of the old one she lived with her volatile mother. And everyone is so nice in Broken Falls—she’s even been welcomed into a tight new circle of friends. Bailey and Jade invite her to do everything with them.

Which is why it’s so odd when they start acting distant. And when they don’t invite her to the biggest party of the year, it doesn’t exactly feel like an accident.

But Kacey will never be able to ask, because Bailey never makes it home from that party. Suddenly, Broken Falls doesn’t seem so welcoming after all—especially once everyone starts looking to the new girl for answers.

Kacey is about to learn some very important lessons: Sometimes appearances can be deceiving. Sometimes when you’re the new girl, you shouldn’t trust anyone”

I think Kara Thomas is easily becoming one of my favorite authors. I would even go as far to say that she’s making me fall in love with a genre I wouldn’t normally be into. I’m an easily scared person, so mystery books aren’t usually my cup of tea… but Little Monsters is giving me the chills in every amazing way possible. When I finished this book I was so emotionally overwhelmed that I couldn’t sit still, and that’s when I realized that I’m falling in love with Kara Thomas’s books.

I was blown away by this book. I was so utterly overwhelmed and drowned in emotions at the end of this book. Kara Thomas knows how to pull off a plot twist like no other. I was so lost and unsure about where to put the blame in the book… and it wasn’t what I was expecting at all. The small town vibes in this book were ever present and kept throwing me off the trail of who to blame.

The characters in this book were scarily intriguing. I never knew who to trust, even at times I was unsure of the narrator. I loved Kasey narrative. She’s intelligent, deep, and humanly flawed. With all the changes going on in her life it was easy to connect with her struggles. Her group of friends is an entire different story. I felt weird about Bailey and Jade from the start, but I had no idea the story would evolve how it did. The book is actually told between Kasey’s perspective and Bailey’s old diary they found that had been written before she died. This whole aspect made the story so much eerier and gave more insight into the character this story really surrounds: Bailey.

The way this story is crafted along with so many characters that couldn’t be trusted added up to be a new favorite for me. I had chills down my arms for most of the book as Kara Thomas led the story through so many different twists. Kara’s writing style is amazing and I love how she tells her stories. My mind is still reeling after this ending; the only thing I know now is that I will buy and read anything Kara Thomas writes.

 

ARC Review: Girls of Paper and Fire

girlsofpaperandfireAuthor: Natasha Ngan

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson Books

Genre: YA fantasy

Pages: 336

Rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis:

“In this lush fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most oppressed class in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards still haunts her. Now, the guards are back, and this time it’s Lei they’re after–the girl whose golden eyes have piqued the king’s interest.

Over weeks of training in the opulent but stifling palace, Lei and eight other girls learn the skills and charm that befit being a king’s consort. But Lei isn’t content to watch her fate consume her. Instead, she does the unthinkable–she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens the very foundation of Ikhara, and Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide just how far she’s willing to go for justice and revenge.”

I am so blown away by this book. I wasn’t exactly sure what I was expecting going into it since fantasy can be pretty hit or miss for me… BUT this story is fantastic. It’s full of well written diverse characters, has a world that’s incredibly interesting AND covers tough topics in a great way.

The world building in this book was masterfully crafted. The tiers and magic systems were well established and just so INTERESTING and unique. It was full of odd demons and all sorts of magic that were well woven into the universe. The magical feel I got from this book was something I’ve never gotten before in a book, it was amazing and I’m really hoping to get to see more of that in the next book following these characters.

SPEAKING OF CHARACTERS, the characters in this book were very unique. Lei, the protagonist, is one of the strongest characters I have ever read. She’s rebellious and stands up for what she believes in despite the consequences during the book. I had a great time reading from her point of view and seeing her character growth that was beyond empowering. I’m not going to go into detail about what I mean here because DUH, spoilers, but it was amazing how brave Lei grew to be over the course of this book. She was a completely different person in the final pages compared the first few.

The other main character in the story is the girl that Lei has a romantic relationship with. It’s not clear at first who Lei begins to fall in love with (and I wouldn’t dare spoil it) but I’m glad it was not playing into the trope of falling in love with an abuser. Lei detests the king during the entire book and finds her forbidden romance somewhere else. The slow burn romance was very emotional and well developed. Together these characters work very well and comfort each other, and they DON’T fall into the trope of “healing” one another, thankfully.

Girls of Paper and Fire is an amazing diverse fantasy read full of well written characters in a world I’m itching to explore more of it. I read through it really quickly and I can’t believe I have to wait so long for the next book… which doesn’t even have a title yet (insert my sobbing here).

BUT this book covers some very heavy topics that I feel need to have set trigger warnings for. It’s pretty much a given that this book needs a trigger warning for sexual abuse considering the synopsis. The particular scene featuring the most sexual abuse was not extremely graphic but was very uncomfortable, upsetting and hard to read. I had a difficult time reading that chapter knowing what was going to happened and I’m glad it wasn’t painfully graphic because I cannot handle reading stuff like that in books. If rape, sexual abuse, etc. are triggering to you this book isn’t going to be your cup of tea.

Thank you to the publisher for sending me and ARC of this book to read and review. Opinions are all my own.

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Waiting on Wednesday: Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss

I’ve never participated in Waiting on Wednesday before, but with how huge my TBR is growing with books that haven’t been released yet it felt fitting to try this out! Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that encourages book lovers to put a spotlight on upcoming releases that they are eagerly anticipating.

This week the unpublished book that I can’t wait to read is from one of my all time favorite authors…

Fame, Fate and the First Kiss by Kasie West

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I have loved pretty much every book that Kasie West has written. They’re all such sweet, swoony stories that I tend to fly through in a day because I can never put them down! She writes the perfect type of book to help you escape from the vicious claws of a reading slump.

Synopsis:

“Lacey Barnes has dreamt of being in a movie for as long as she can remember. However, while her dream did include working alongside the hottest actor in Hollywood, it didn’t involve having to finish up her senior year of high school at the same time she was getting her big break. Although that is nothing compared to Donavan, the straight-laced student her father hires to tutor her, who is a full-on nightmare.

As Lacey struggles to juggle her burgeoning career, some on-set sabotage, and an off-screen romance with the unlikeliest of leading men, she quickly learns that sometimes the best stories happen when you go off script.”

I’m so excited for this book to be out in the world February 2019! I adore this author, I know anything she writes will be a five star review from me.

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Book Review: The Cheerleaders

thecheerleaders.pngAuthor: Kara Thomas

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Genre: YA mystery

Pages: 384

Rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis:

“There are no more cheerleaders in the town of Sunnybrook.

First there was the car accident—two girls gone after hitting a tree on a rainy night. Not long after, the murders happened. Those two girls were killed by the man next door. The police shot him, so no one will ever know why he did it. Monica’s sister was the last cheerleader to die. After her suicide, Sunnybrook High disbanded the cheer squad. No one wanted to be reminded of the girls they lost.

That was five years ago. Now the faculty and students at Sunnybrook High want to remember the lost cheerleaders. But for Monica, it’s not that easy. She just wants to forget. Only, Monica’s world is starting to unravel. There are the letters in her stepdad’s desk, an unearthed, years-old cell phone, a strange new friend at school. . . . Whatever happened five years ago isn’t over. Some people in town know more than they’re saying. And somehow Monica is at the center of it all.

There are no more cheerleaders in Sunnybrook, but that doesn’t mean anyone else is safe.”

I’m mad at myself for not picking this book up sooner. It was AMAZING and gripping and had me reading (listening, actually, the audio book is fantastic) frantically until the very end. What even was that ending? I can’t stop thinking about it.

The characters in this book are some of the most interesting I have ever read. Monica was loyal, brilliant, and cunning. She was a really deep character and spent a lot of the book victim blaming herself for something that happened in the past that broke my heart. I just wanted to give her a huge hug half the time with everything she was going through. I can’t imagine living how she was, confused with everything she thought she knew and unsure if their was true justice for the girls that had died in her town.

Plus, the book was told in two point of views; the other one being Monica’s older sister Jennifer. Jennifer’s point of view was from five years in the past and gave insight into her life before she committed suicide. I loved how eerie this made the story. It felt like I was chasing after a string. I was desperately trying to tie the clues together.

The story was so dark and fascinating. It was masterfully crafted, complex, and too good to put down. I had trouble putting the clues together while reading, but by the end I could feel my heart thumping with Monica’s as she put everything together. I was so submerged in this story that even in the moments that I hadn’t been reading it I was thinking about it. Yeah. It’s THAT good.

This book has the biggest surprise ending plot twist that I never saw coming. I hadn’t realized how emotionally invested I was with this story until the last chapter ended and I was left staring at a wall with my mouth gaping wide open. WHAT EVEN WHAT THE ENDING. Holy cow!! My heart hurts, my brain hurts. The ending is just BRUTAL.

My last note about this book which is a bit negative regards the relationship Monica has with another character in the story named Brandon. Although it’s not said at first, Brandon is a twenty-seven year old man who becomes a teacher at Monica’s school. During the summer before her Junior year they had slept together. I wish there had been more fleshing out about the situation and that we could have seen Monica victim blame less, or at least have her realize that what happened was not her fault. I was a little bummed that there was no resolution there or with how this situation has changed Monica’s relationship with her mother.

Otherwise, this book was fantastic. It’s a must read, even for people who wouldn’t normally read for this genre. It’s so hard for me not to ramble on about this book for hours because I simply loved it so much. I would highly recommend you grab yourself a copy of this book and give it a spot on the top of your TBR pile.

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Book Review: Shuffle, Repeat

26067503Author: Jen Klein

Publisher: Random House for Young Readers

Genres: YA contemporary & YA romance

Pages: 327

Rating: 4.5/5

Synopsis:

June wants high school to end and real life to begin. Oliver is soaking up senior year’s glory days. They could have coasted through high school, knowing about—but not really knowing—each other.

Except that their moms have arranged for Oliver to drive June to school. Every. Single. Day.

Suddenly these two opposites are fighting about music, life . . . pretty much everything. But love is unpredictable. When promises—and hearts—get broken, Oliver and June must figure out what really matters. And then fight for it. ”

Be still my heart. This book was so swoony, so sweet and packed full of banter… which is my favorite type of book. Reading this book made me remember how terribly painful it is to be reading through a well written slow burn romance.

June is one of the most interesting female protagonists I’ve read about in a book from this genre. She completely destroys the cookie cutter contemporary female and is, all honesty, quiet negative and condescending. At least she is in the beginning of the book; over time she develops a lot and becomes a lot less, for lack of a better term, high and mighty.  She’s super funny and really drove the banter bus in this story, which I’m always here for because humor makes books 201% better (yes, I did the math). Then there’s Oliver who is the perfect dreamy typical (but secretly not typical) arrogant jock. He’s stolen my heart a little bit. I don’t think I’ve loved two vastly different characters together in such a long time.

These two opposites start as something close to “bitter enemies” . They bicker in the car ride to school everyday and always have something to argue about. But as their senior year goes on it’s so cute to watch their hate turn to a very well functioning friendship all the way to a romance. This is the best hate-to-love book I’ve ever read. Their relationship is so well developed in every way and I was always swooning when they had those cute flirtyish moments during the time they were at the friendship stage. Everything about these two makes the story entertaining and humorous. I can’t even tell you how many times I laughed to myself way too late at night while reading the banter.

Aside from the laughter, there were tons of tears from where this book hit harder than I expected. Sure, most of this book is all fluffy and messed with my feels but there was a deeper element I wasn’t expecting. This book covers family drama and what it’s like to find out your parents aren’t who you thought they were. It broke my heart a little bit, but was super well written and something that I haven’t seen a ton of in YA books.

Moving back to happier topics… the natural feel of this book was unreal. The school dynamic felt real (and avoided many stereotypes thankfully) with how people interacted. I loved the friend groups surrounding June & Oliver, especially June’s best friend Sean. His interactions with June showed her soft, or what can be considered soft, side and always left me with a happy feeling. Especially their Valentine’s Day tradition. I love them!!

This book was beyond cute, my heart still jumps thinking about it. The only thing I didn’t completely understand was why June didn’t drive, I don’t think it’s really even fully fleshed out in the story and some of decisions confused me a bit. BUT all in all this book is just too adorable for this world and remains one of the best contemporaries I have ever had the honor of reading (yes, HONOR. It’s that good).

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