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Book Review: All’s Fair in Love and Cupcakes by Betsy St. Amant

Posted by Julie on September 4, 2014 in Book Review, encouragement, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |











Book Description

Kat Varland has had enough of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry.

At twenty-six years old, Kat is still living in the shadows of her family in Bayou Bend, Louisiana. Still working shifts at her Aunt Maggie’s bakery. Still wondering what to do with her passion for baking and her business degree. And still single.

But when Lucas Brannen, Kat’s best friend, signs her up for a reality TV bake-off on Cupcake Combat, everything Kat ever wanted is suddenly dangled in front of her: creative license as a baker, recognition as a visionary . . . and a job at a famous bakery in New York.

As the competition heats up, Lucas realizes he might have made a huge mistake. As much as he wants the best for Kat, the only thing he wants for himself—her—is suddenly in danger of slipping away.

The bright lights of reality cooking wars and the chance at a successful career dazzle Kat’s senses and Lucas is faced with a difficult choice: help his friend achieve her dreams . . . or sabotage her chances to keep her in Louisiana.

I’m a sucker for the best friends/will they become more plot. It’s impossible not to root for Lucas and Kat. The odds are against them as they work together in a cupcake competition in NYC. Kat has issues, so does Lucas. He has reason to go back to Louisiana, she has reasons for wanting to win and stay in the Big Apple.

But as the competition continues, cooking isn’t the only thing in the kitchen, there is chemistry. I loved reading Kat’s story and adored Lucas.

This is a sweet romance that left me satisfied. I hope you put All’s Fair in Love and Cupcakes on your reading list.

To purchase All’s Fair in Love and Cupcakes, click here.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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My May Recommendation: Chick Lit Girls

Posted by Julie on May 17, 2012 in encouragement, Julie Arduini, Writing |

It started as a Facebook like. It’s easy to click the “like” and never see the content again. I try not to do that, because I want to make sure it doesn’t appear that I approve of anything that might not be an organization or conviction that goes against my core values and beliefs.

This time, I lingered longer. I left a comment. I saw ways to find the same organization on Twitter, Pinterest, and Google Plus. I went and found those, too.

After my comment, they asked if I’d seen the website.

No, I had not.

I needed to change that.

When I did, I realized my little voice and website can do something to help great organizations that grab my attention. I decided to grab their button and put it on my sidebar and give something akin to my seal of approval to it, hoping readers will like the organization and keep the awareness growing.

Because I really liked what I saw.

So I plan to find an organization or something each month that could use encouragement and a highlight.

I’m excited to share that for May, I choose Chick Lit Girls. They are all about good reads for women and feature book reviews, new releases, author spotlights, and reading lists. They emphasize not only their love of reading, but that their finds are always clean. I love that.

This is what really got me–they are more than book readers. The  Chick Lit Girls give back. This is from their website:

Chick Lit Girls practices charity and we do believe in giving back to the community. Therefore, we give 10% of all of our proceeds to the poor, the homeless, and to organizations that help society with things like shelter, food, education, and health. May God Bless All of our Faithful Readers & Writers! You are helping and giving by participating in our site! Thank you!

So please go check them out and like, follow, grab their button, subscribe–do all the positive things that help spread the word about a great group in a positive way.

Thanks, Chick Lit Girls for doing all the right things and creating inspiration.

Happy reading!

Chick Lit Girls badge code for your site:<div align=”center”><a href=”” title=”Chick Lit Girls”><img src=”” alt=”Chick Lit Girls” style=”border:none;” /></a></div>

Chick Lit Girls website

Chick Lit Girls Facebook

Chick Lit Girls Twitter

Chick Lit Girls Pinterest

Chick Lit Girls Google Plus

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Character Confession: Like Drinking an Almond Joy Every Day

I’m sitting here in total peace and quiet savoring a cup of coffee with coconut creamer. Let’s get right to the Character Confession before someone wakes up and ruins my perfect moment. 🙂




I thought today I’d share some things I’m loving in my life right now. Perhaps it will stir up some ideas that you didn’t see in your own life.

1. The brilliant autumn scenes right outside my window.






2. Coconut creamer. It’s like drinking an Almond Joy every day.

3. Coming up for air long enough to realize how much I love my writing life. I am in a fiction season working hard on my contemporary romance, Spectacular Falls. The editing process is hard on the eyes and time consuming but I’m learning so much. I’m in love with the characters and I’m meeting new people through my critique groups.

4. Seeing my dad in everyday life. He’s been gone for 7 years but watching my daughter become giddy over weather reminds me of him.

5. The ability to laugh with loved ones, and not at them. This week both kids and their class had the opportunity to be part of local news broadcasts. The oldest was so excited and we DVR’d the program. The big moment came and all we saw of the son was the back of his head. We laughed like crazy together.

6. Reading. I have a Kindle with about 60 titles on it. I have at least one paperback sitting by the bed. This week alone I received three books from authors for review and promotion. It’s not a burden to see this much reading to do, it’s a flat out blessing.

7. Confirmation. Writing is a lonely life and this month was heavy on the writing and the lonely. Maybe I’m the only one but there was a week where I questioned everything about who I am and what I do. Sprinkled throughout that week were unexpected messages and affirmations from people letting me know how I helped them without me knowing it. When I wondered in tears if I even matter a chorus of voices rose up and said yes.

8. My curly red hair. This month a lot of people remarked about my hair and I joke about it, but I’m loving it at the same time. The curls came out of nowhere earlier this year. I call it my menopause hair. Although the red is disappearing and white is taking over, I love the color. I love that I wet it, scrunch it dry with a Sham-Wow cloth, and I’m done. That’s it. Don’t hate me.

9. Criminal Minds. Where has this show been all my life? Yes, it’s dark and it isn’t for everyone. Like NCIS, I’m fascinated by the team concept where each character is multi-dimensional. That’s hard to pull off and this show is strong. I do need to stop watching the marathons Sunday nights before bed, though.

10. I love how great you are. Starting Tuesday the thankful posts start and they come from you. The new guest bloggers this year is overwhelming and the content is inspiring. I know because of Thanksgiving November is a thankful time of year but I also know first hand how bleak the month can feel. I’m telling you, the thankful posts are going to be something you love.

Speaking of love, I’m working on my Facebook writing page and would love for you to “like” it.  Click here.


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Book Review: Heather Munn/Lydia Munn Deliver with How Huge the Night

Posted by Julie on May 12, 2011 in Book Review, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender, Writing |

I’m a history fan and devour any book that sheds light on either the Civil War or WWII. When Litfuse had an opening for the WWII based novel How Huge the Night, I signed up right away.

Heather Munn and Lydia Munn deliver a haunting look at the Nazi threat and eventual takeover through the eyes of teenagers.  Julien starts off wanting to see action and not really understanding the seriousness of the Germans. Thrown together with another teen who had to flee his home Julien finds more action than he bargains for. Friends have to choose allegiances and Julien has to watch his mother who is still haunted from experiencing the same thing during the previous war.

Heather and Lydia Munn deliver a fascinating novel set during WWII.

Nina is a Jew with a leg/foot deformity who watches her father die. She follows his advice and leaves her home with her brother, but for her, it isn’t so easy.  She must not only hide her religion, but her gender. She cuts her hair and turns herself into Niko in an effort to save her and her brother.

I won’t give anything more away because eventually Julien and Niko are going to meet and I thought it was a gripping story showing how teenagers in this era in Europe had to be so confused.  Julien starts to see the German “Heil Hitler” salute from his friends and is upset, and we understand why. Yet for many of those boys during that time they were listening to their parents, or the propaganda. They didn’t know the evils, they thought they were getting a strong leader. I found the entire backdrop and constant conflict right at your heels devastating and fascinating at the same time.

If you’re a history fan this is a must but I recommend it for anyone who would love to read a WWII era book from a teen point of view. I thought that aspect was handled with excellence. The setting and imagery still has me believing I can see the hungry refugees and the school yard conflicts.

You won’t forget How Huge the Night. I don’t think you are supposed to.


About How Huge the Night:

Fifteen-year-old Julien Losier just wants to fit in. But after his family moves to a small village in central France in hopes of outrunning the Nazis, he is suddenly faced with bigger challenges than the taunting of local teens. Nina Krenkel left her country to obey her father’s dying command: Take your brother and leave Austria. Burn your papers. Tell no one you are Jews. Alone and on the run, she arrives in Tanieux, France, dangerously ill and in despair.


Thrown together by the chaos of war, Julien begins to feel the terrible weight of the looming conflict and Nina fights to survive. As France falls to the Nazis, Julien struggles with doing what is right, even if it is not enough-and wonders whether or not he really can save Nina from almost certain death.


Based on the true story of the town of Le Chambon-the only French town honored by Israel for rescuing Jews from the Holocaust-How Huge the Night is a compelling, coming-of-age drama that will keep teens turning the pages as it teaches them about a fascinating period of history and inspires them to think more deeply about their everyday choices.


Link to buy the book:


This book was provided to me through Litfuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.

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