[Book Talk] The Art of French Kissing by Brianna R. Schrum

Book Details:

Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Read: July 2018

Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Carter Lane has wanted to be a chef since she was old enough to ignore her mom’s warnings to stay away from the hot stove. And now she has the chance of a lifetime: a prestigious scholarship competition in Savannah, where students compete all summer in Chopped style challenges for a full-ride to one of the best culinary schools in the country. The only impossible challenge ingredient in her basket: Reid Yamada.

After Reid, her cute but unbearably cocky opponent, goes out of his way to screw her over on day one, Carter vows revenge, and soon they’re involved in a full-fledged culinary war. Just as the tension between them reaches its boiling point, Carter and Reid are forced to work together if they want to win, and Carter begins to wonder if Reid’s constant presence in her brain is about more than rivalry. And if maybe her desire to smack his mouth doesn’t necessarily cancel out her desire to kiss it.

My Thoughts

Thank you to Thomas Allen & Sons for a copy of this book! 

This book probably would’ve gone unnoticed by me had it not been for my friend Ambur who works at Thomas Allen & Sons. She sent me a list of upcoming releases and the title and cover caught my eye. I loved the cute little macarons on the cover, the Julia Child-ish title. And then I read the synopsis – a book with cooking, romance, and a competition? Sign me up!

The Art of French Kissing was just such a cute book. I was a little worried because when I added it to my Goodreads currently-reading shelf I noticed that the rating was a little lower than I would’ve liked. Would I still like it? Turns out, it was just what I needed at the time. This book made me think of when I started reading The Selection by Keira Cass – that one was a spin on the Bachelor TV shows. This book is like a spin on Chopped, where a group of young adults are chosen for a cooking competition with the prize being a full scholarship to a prestigious cooking school.

I loved all of the cooking, even if I was a little skeptical of Carter’s acceptance to the show after writing about grilled cheese, of all things. BUT, I was still totally sucked in. I loved the competition aspect of it, even if it maybe wouldn’t have happened that way in real life. There’s romance, which was adorable. The attempts at sabotaging other players was fun (even if one was definitely overstepping boundaries) and I enjoyed the “evil” character of Andrew.

The only thing that kind of drove me nuts was Reid’s nicknames for Carter, one being “princess” which had me cringing. I also would’ve loved this book to be a bit longer (it’s just under 250 pages) – it would’ve been great to have more from the cooking show, more detail, more competition. I also would’ve loved something more at the end since the book pretty much ends after the competition is over. But it was still such a fun read, perfect for summer!

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Mid-Year Update & Mid-Year Freak Out Tag – January to June 2018

I actually did this tag LAST year and loved doing a bit of an update on what I had read over the past 6 months. Last year’s was posted a month too late, so I wanted to be sure to get this post up in July! I’ve had such a great reading year so far, despite having a week here and there where I just didn’t feel like reading – I feel like that’s TOTALLY NORMAL. I’m hoping to have a great July to December, reading-wise, and I look forward to seeing what those numbers look like! I’m not certain who created this tag originally, so if you know, let me know so I can link them!

number of books read this year (as of june 30) – 104
number of books from my pre-2018 tbr pile – 30
number of books by canadian authors read – 30
longest book read so far – the bronze horseman by paullina simons (810 pages)

1. BEST BOOKS YOU’VE READ SO FAR IN 2018?

This is a VERY hard question. Going through my Goodreads page, I can see that I rated 28 books as 5-star reads and going through that list made me realize that I’ve loved SO MANY books so far this year! If I think in terms of books that have really stuck with me, now at the end of June as I write this, I have to say Every Note Played by Lisa Genova has been a big favourite. I always think her next book won’t be as good as her last, but she just keeps getting better and her books just strike you right in the feels. I would also say The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah because that book just had my heart racing as I read it. It was one of those books that I just couldn’t put down and one that I made sure I didn’t read right before bed or I wouldn’t get any sleep. This book was INTENSE and it just shows how far Kristin Hannah has come in her writing. I also have to give mention to And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie and How To Walk Away by Katherine Center.

2. BEST SEQUEL OF 2018 SO FAR

So last year, I was ALL about the sequels because I had so many books in series that I needed to read but this year I really haven’t read very many. That really does make this question easy because one series book I read and absolutely LOVED was This Fallen Prey, the third book in the Casey Duncan series by Kelly Armstrong. I love this series! Really, I love all of her series and I’ve been slowly catching up on all the books by Kelley that I still need to read. I love this series because it’s just a great crime thriller series without any supernatural elements, like a lot of her other series. PLUS, it takes place up in the Canadian Yukon!

3. NEW RELEASE YOU HAVEN’T READ YET, BUT YOU WANT TO

   

I think I planned to not buy a lot of new releases this year, but it turns out that I’ve been buying way more than I had planned, plus getting some for review, so my list is just getting bigger and bigger! This doesn’t even include books that HAVEN’T come out yet (unless I already have an advanced reader copy), so I just know this will grow more by the end of the year, though I have been trying to prioritize reading books as they come in, so hopefully by the end of the year I won’t have too many to still be read. The pictures above are all the new releases that I currently have – 9 of these are review copies.

4. MOST ANTICIPATED RELEASE OF THE SECOND HALF OF 2017?

 

Weirdly, I don’t have a lot of books I want to read that are coming out later this year – I’ve been keeping a bit of a list on my iPad but only one of them has been a must-buy and that’s Tessa Dare’s upcoming historical romance, The Governess Game, which is coming out in August. I also look forward to the next thriller by Gilly MacMillan, I Know You Know, coming out in September. And lastly, ANOTHER thriller, Watching You by Lisa Jewell, due out in December. There is also Elevation by Stephen King, coming out in October, and Kristin Higgins’s next book, Good Luck With That, coming out in August.

5. BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT

 

Looking through my lower rated books this year so far, two stood out for me. One is American War by Omar El Akkad, a book that was up for the Canada Reads prize. I just didn’t see the hype in this book as I read it and definitely didn’t love it like most people did. The next was The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory. I saw so many good things about this book on Goodreads and Twitter, but it was just so long and boring and not the kind of contemporary romance I like to read.

6. BIGGEST SURPRISE

This was kind of a hard one for me because nothing was too much of a surprise for me. I will say that the Penguin Little Black Classic Circe and the Cyclops by Homer was a bit of a surprise, only because I thought that something written so long ago would be hard to read and understand, but I really enjoyed it and it made me more interested to read The Odyssey. The same goes for Flush: A Biography by Virginia Woolf, only because I had read that she can be really hard to read, but Flush was a really charming book.

My favourite fiction read of the first three months!

7. FAVOURITE NEW AUTHOR (DEBUT OR AUTHOR TO YOU)

I haven’t read a lot of new-to-me authors this month – of the ones listed, one is a classic author, two are translated authors, one writes thrillers, and another writes contemporary. I hope to discover more favourites in the latter half of the year.

Banana Yoshimoto (Author of Kitchen)
Nikolai Gogol (Author of The Nose)
Gail Honeyman (Author of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine)
Lisa Jewell (Author of Then She Was Gone)

8. NEWEST FICTIONAL CRUSH

I don’t really have fictional crushes, but I would go with Ian from How To Walk Away, or even Sahil from From Twinkle, With Love.

9. NEWEST FAVOURITE CHARACTER

I am TERRIBLE with remembering characters, so this is a hard question for me. Scrolling through the books I’ve read so far this year, I can’t find anything where a certain character pops out at me. Maybe Eleanor Oliphant? She’s a hard character to like, but by the end of the book I liked her a lot.

10. BOOK THAT MADE YOU CRY

I’m terrible with remembering the feelings I felt while reading, but I do have to say that Lisa Genova’s Every Note Played had me absolutely BAWLING by the end.

11. A BOOK THAT MADE YOU HAPPY

I think I say this every year, but Kasie West, for sure – all of her books just put a huge smile in my face, and her newest, Listen To Your Heart was no exception! There was also Katherine Center’s latest, How To Walk Away, as well as From Twinkle, With Love, by Sandhya Menon. Looking at classics, Winifred Watson’s Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day was super lovely.

12. FAVOURITE BOOK TO MOVIE ADAPTATION YOU’VE SEEN THIS YEAR

I really haven’t seen very many movies this year, so I only have a few of these to choose from, but I will say that the adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time was just so, so good – and I’m not just saying that because I love Chris Pine! I loved the book and read it again late last year and I love what they did in the adaptation. I think the book took a tiny bit of a religious turn, but the movie doesn’t and the whole thing was just so beautiful. Parts of it even brought me to tears!

13. FAVOURITE REVIEW YOU’VE WRITTEN THIS YEAR?

Again, I don’t really write a lot of reviews anymore and I’m not particularly clever in them, so can I just say any review I write is my favourite because I’m terrible at keeping up with them?

14. MOST BEAUTIFUL BOOK YOU’VE BOUGHT OR RECEIVED THIS YEAR?

Now, I think that all books are beautiful, but looking back at the books I’ve bought this year, nothing really stands out too much. I do love the cover of The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night by Jen Campbell – it’s also one of those books where the cover is printed on the hardback, rather than on a dust jacket. Is there a name for that? I love those kinds of books. I’m also really drawn to the cover of Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle – that little smattering of purple amongst the yellow is just so pretty. And I have to mention the Virago covers for Daphne du Maurier books – I have three of these covers and, ugh, they’re just too gorgeous!

15. WHAT BOOKS DO YOU NEED TO READ BY THE END OF THE YEAR?

Well, I think the last time I counted my owned-must-read books I was at 400 books and I’m currently at 395, so I’d really like to just read LOTS. Particularly, I’d like to catch up on the books I’ve been buying this year, and those I’ve bought last year, but ultimately, my goal is to just read as many of my owned books as I can!

How has your year looked so far? Have you have any real standouts for the books you’ve read? What releases are you looking forward to for the rest of the year?

Another Quarterly Read My Own Damn Books-A-Thon – Final Update!

Sunday: 

This afternoon my oldest kid had a drop off birthday party and the littlest went with her dad to the airport to pick up her uncle, so I had a good few hours in the afternoon to read!

What I read:

  • About 50 pages of The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend
  • A few hours of my audiobook (at 1.5x speed)
  • Just a few pages of Broken Wheel before bed – I was so tired!

Monday:

Last night my youngest was up from about midnight to 1:00 which screwed with my system. I was up at 5:00 but tried to go back to sleep until about 6:00 with no luck – I should’ve just gotten up to read! I did manage to read for about 40-45 minutes in the morning at least. The husband and his brothers left early for camping so I got some audiobook listening done in the morning, too!

What I read:

  • More short stories from Neil Gaiman’s Smoke & Mirrors
  • Finished my audiobook The Hating Game
  • Finished reading A Walk In The Woods
  • Finished reading The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend
  • Started Sea of Shadows

The kids had a good 2 hours of quiet time, so I sat down and finished a book during that time, which was nice. I actually planned to read a little more in the evening, but made it to about 9:30 and about 130 pages into a new book! My evening goal was to get halfway through, but I didn’t realize the book was over 400 pages long.

Tuesday

Oh man, I had planned to get up at 5am to read and was awake at 4:45, but I was just too tired and comfy so I went back to sleep until 6:00. Managed to read for about a half hour until the kids were up. It was a bit of a rainy day today so I tried to work in some Little Black Classics during the day and finished two and am halfway into another – I didn’t realize how far behind I am in reading these! I have 80+ in my collection and have only read maybe a dozen.

What I Read:

  • Started and finished The Old Man of The Moon
  • Finished The Night Is Darkening Round Me
  • Started The Old Nurse’s Tale
  • Started The Bear
  • Continued reading The Hunger

The kids had a good quiet time again today and I finally got more into The Hunger, which I started last month and just hadn’t had the time to get into – about 140 pages left. Started two books that were picked for my Random Number Generator Reading List – hoping to get through three of these and start a fourth by the end of the week. I’d like to pick another 5 in August! Got some good reading in before bed but fell asleep early again.

Wednesday

As usual now, with my husband not waking me up at 4:30 because that’s when he usually gets up for work, I’m sleepy in the mornings and my eyes resist getting up at 5:00, so I stayed in bed until about 5:45 when I forced the light on and read for about an hour. My oldest got up at that time so I had to as well, so he wouldn’t wake his sister. Still managed to read some of Sea of Shadows, leaving about 90 pages left to read. Also finished my audiobook in the morning while I made pancakes for breakfast, and got in a few more short stories. Like I said, we’re having a lazy week.

  • Finished reading The Bear (Listened to the library’s audiobook, though I own the paperback)
  • Finished Smoke and Mirrors (Why did I wait 17 years to read this?
  • Finished The Old Nurse’s Tale
  • Finished The Hunger
  • Finished Sea of Shadows
  • Started reading More Happy Than Not
  • Started reading The Lullaby Girl

It felt so good to finish 5 books today! It also felt good to start a couple new ones in the evening – especially one that has been on my shelf for the past 3 years. I did plan to start an audiobook today but I needed some peace in my head for a bit.

Thursday

As usual, the first three days of a read-a-thon and I’m super ambitious, but then I start to peter out as the week goes on. I started another new book this morning but due to appointments, I didn’t have a lot of time to sit and read – AND I cheated a bit on reading my own books since a book I really wanted to read (The Madwoman Upstairs) came in for me at the library and I just had to dig in.

  • Started reading The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night

Taking a break from reading tonight and watching a couple Jane Austen movies – the Kiera Knightley version of Pride & Prejudice (which I haven’t seen – the Colin Firth one is my favourite!) as well as Lost in Austen.

Friday

So I didn’t realize that Lost In Austen was 3 hours long! I managed to watch that last night and didn’t get to Pride & Prejudice. Last night there was a RIDICULOUS storm outside, so I had a terrible sleep and didn’t get to any reading in the morning. I managed a bit of reading during the day but we had a full house so not a lot.

  • Started reading The Iron Trial

Went to bed with a new book (naturally) so it looks like I’ll be finishing the week reading the same number of books I started it with!

Saturday

I originally intended this read-a-thon to last just 5 days but since I started on Sunday afternoon, I thought I might as well go through Saturday, too! I did finish one more book, so that’s good.

  • Finished The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night

Got in a bit of reading in the morning, but not a lot, thanks to my daughter who is getting up earlier and earlier every day. Plus I was exhausted in the evening so I got only a bit of reading in before passing out.

Owned TBR at the beginning of the week: 399 books
Owned TBR at the end of the week: 392 books (I may have bought a book or two over the week)

I managed to finish 11 books over the week, which is great! I hope that I can keep up some momentum over the rest of the month, but with my husband not working right now since his brother is visiting, I’m not sure where I’ll fit it in!

Here are the books I had on the go when the week started:

  1. Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman
  2. Emma by Jane Austen
  3. The Night Is Darkening ‘Round Me by Emily Bronte
  4. The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
  5. The Hunger by Alma Katsu
  6. The Outsider by Stephen King
  7. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  8. A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
  9. The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald
  10. Bleak House by Charles Dickens

What I’m now reading at the end of the week:

  1. The Madwoman Upstairs by Catherine Lowell (library book)
  2. The Lullaby Girl (Angie Pallorino, #2) by Loreth Anne White (review book)
  3. The Iron Trial (Magisterium, #1) by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black
  4. More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
  5. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  6. The Outsider by Stephen King
  7. Emma by Jane Austen
  8. Bleak House by Charles Dickens

Not too bad! I think I’ll have another one of these week-long read-a-thons to read my own books later on in the next few months. It’s kind of nice to have that kick in the butt to get my TBR down!