Thursday, December 15, 2011

Bookanista Thursday: BITTERSWEET by Sarah Ockler

The last time I posted I said something about having to take a break from reading to buckle down and focus on writing for a little while.  And I did...until BITTERSWEET showed up in my mailbox. I adored TWENTY BOY SUMMER  and FIXING DELILAH, so I was beyond excited for Sarah Ockler's next contemp, which features cupcakes, hockey boys, lake effect winds, and dreams that shift and change amidst it all.  It comes out on January 3rd, and it's THE PERFECT curl-up-with-a-cup-of-hot-cocoa-and-a-cupcake kind of book.  Check it out!
From Goodreads:  Once upon a time, Hudson knew exactly what her future looked like. Then a betrayal changed her life, and knocked her dreams to the ground. Now she’s a girl who doesn’t believe in second chances... a girl who stays under the radar by baking cupcakes at her mom’s diner and obsessing over what might have been.

So when things start looking up and she has another shot at her dreams, Hudson is equal parts hopeful and terrified. Of course, this is also the moment a cute, sweet guy walks into her life...and starts serving up some seriously mixed signals. She’s got a lot on her plate, and for a girl who’s been burned before, risking it all is easier said than done.

It’s time for Hudson to ask herself what she really wants, and how much she’s willing to sacrifice to get it. Because in a place where opportunities are fleeting, she knows this chance may very well be her last....

My Thoughts:

Hudson Avery had me with this: "In three years of baking for Hurley’s Homestyle Diner in Watonka, New York, I’ve never met a problem a proper cupcake couldn’t fix."  On the surface, it's a fun line that most of us would heartily agree with.  I've put this philosophy into practice more than once in my own life, that's for sure. 

But for Hudson, it goes much deeper than that.  Baking cupcakes in her mom's diner is not only her way of trying to fix problems and keep everyone happy, it's also her way of avoiding her own feelings about her parents' divorce and the turn her life has taken in the years since.  Hudson is the kind of character I love because she's strong and vulnerable at the same time.  She takes on responsibility after responsibility, and is too stubborn to ask for any help, even when it becomes too much to handle.  At the same time though, she has this side of her that dreams and yearns for something more, and it's a side she keeps to herself until a cute hockey player by the name of Josh comes along.

There is no way I could write about this book without singing the praises of Ockler's knack for romance within a story.  As with her first two books, she knows exactly when to stretch the romantic tension between her characters, and when to let them fall headlong into it. And those moments are so well rendered I get butterflies in my stomach reading them.  Seriously.  Nobody writes a kiss like Sarah Ockler does.

My most favorite thing about this book though is how real the story felt--from Hudson's tenuous relationship with her mom, to her heartwarming one with her brother, Bug, to the ones with her friends and the boys in her life, I felt these people.  And I felt all of those moments between them--the good ones that make your heart sing, and the not-so-good ones you'd rather send off on the icy wind that is a constant in Watonka. 

BITTERSWEET is the perfect title for Hudson's story, and Sarah Ockler tells it with humor, honesty, and cupcake descriptions that will have you heading out the door in search of your nearest bakery. Like I said, it's out on January 3rd, so now is the perfect time to add it to your Christmas list!

If you want to find Sarah, you can look her up here:

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If you want to see what the other Bookanistas are talking about this week, check them out on their blogs:


  1. Sigh ... two girls whose books never fail to make me cry. In a good way, of course!

  2. Oh this book looks so amazing! Sarah Ockler totally rocks my face! :D

  3. Sigh. I can't wait to read it. She is my words hero. Thanks for the great review, Jessi!

  4. I've only read Fixing Delilah so I'm looking forward to read this one. I love the new cover! Romance, you say? I'm in!

    - Mary | Anxirium

  5. I'm such a Sarah Ockler fan, and this book sounds adorable. Love the cover too! Can't wait to read this one... Thanks for the fantastic recommendation, Jessi!