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How to Eat a Cupcake

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Funny, free-spirited Annie Quintana and sophisticated, ambitious Julia St. Clair come from two different worlds. Yet, as the daughter of the St. Clair’s housekeeper, Annie grew up in Julia’s San Francisco mansion and they forged a bond that only two little girls who know nothing of class differences and scholarships could—until a life-altering betrayal destroyed their friendship.

A decade later, Annie is now a talented, if underpaid, pastry chef who bakes to fill the void left in her heart by her mother’s death. Julia, a successful businesswoman, is tormented by a painful secret that could jeopardize her engagement to the man she loves. When a chance reunion prompts the unlikely duo to open a cupcakery, they must overcome past hurts and a mysterious saboteur or risk losing their fledgling business and any chance of healing their fractured friendship.

309 pages, Paperback

First published March 13, 2012

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About the author

Meg Donohue

6 books611 followers
Meg Donohue is the USA Today bestselling author of You, Me, and the Sea, Every Wild Heart, Dog Crazy, All the Summer Girls, and How to Eat a Cupcake. Her novels have been translated into Dutch, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, and Turkish. Born and raised in Philadelphia, she lives San Francisco with her husband, three daughters, and dog. She is currently working on her next novel.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,027 reviews
239 reviews3 followers
March 4, 2016
I'll admit the "idea" of a book that involved cupcakes intrigued me. Maybe I was just hungry for something sweet at the time. And this book did encourage that craving...

How to Eat a Cupcake is a light read. It is slow-going at first, but by the last third of the book it does pick up its pace (finally). But unfortunately if you can hang on that long, your patience isn't really rewarded. I was hoping for a sweet story of lost friendship found. And while that is a small part of the main storyline, it is only superficially explored. The whole book felt very superficial- you are only given a surface-level character sketch, the point of view switches between Annie and Julia so you never feel very attached to either one.

Annie is the stereotypical poor girl, the daughter of Julia's nanny. Julia is the stereotypical rich girl, who thinks mainly of herself. Their reconnection is flat and boring. Julia's want to open a "cupcakery" with Annie feels forced. There is a little mystery as to a painful moment of Julia's past (that is fairly easy to guess), what happened to Lucia, Annie's mom, plus where her recipe book is, and who is the strange man that appears outside their store. The mysteries reveals are a case of too much telling and not enough showing. Those moments should have had great lead-ins, where you could start to piece together things on your own, but instead all of a sudden it's all just out there.

I really didn't come to care, empathize or sympathize with anyone. It helps keep your interest if you can at least feel something for the characters... but I really couldn't. As this is a debut work, I can't say that I'm that surprised but I was hoping for something deeper- some sort of connection to characters and more substance to the plot would have made for a stronger story. Maybe my feelings would have been elevated if there were at least some great cupcake recipes included but alas there are not... A missed opportunity there for sure.

Fans of baking/cooking related fiction would do better to read Comfort Food, Sweet Love, Friendship Bread: A Novel or The Love Goddess' Cooking School. All of which have a stronger plot and are increasingly more enjoyable than this middling read.
Profile Image for Linda C.
169 reviews
January 18, 2016
This book was like an underbaked cupcake. Too many flavors, too many themes and way, way too many cliches. If the author had written a book about two 20 somethings who tried to repair their friendship by going into business together, it might have been a sweet, albeit, light story. Instead, Donahue tries to cover every imaginable theme in only 300 pages, and so does justice to none of them.

And the cliches!!! Of course Julia is tall, thin, blond, gorgeous and rich. Of course Annie is short and curvy with wild hair and an electic style. Just once, I'd like to see the poor friend be the beautiful one. Rich girls can be unattractive too, although chick authors never seem to realize that. Throw in Julia's perfect financee, her father's possible dementia, Annie's unknown father appearing... and you have a hot mess of a book.

Also, Donahue kept the reader in the dark for more than half the book about why the girls had a falling out and why the adult Julia came home to San Francisco. The author alluded to things without letting the reader in on the secret which was incredibly annoying. "You know what you did to me," said Annie. Well, yes, I'm sure that Julia did know but we, the readers, do not and we shouldnt have to read half the book to learn such a crucial fact.

Finally, calling the bakery a "cupcakery" annoyed to no end. It was a bakery. Period. End of story. I think Donahue has talent but this was clearly a first novel. Hopefully she can improve.
Profile Image for Kathleen (Kat) Smith.
1,612 reviews81 followers
March 17, 2012
Annie Quintana and Julia St. Clair as a different as night is to day. Separated by ten years, the two find themselves brought together once again. Julia St. Clair is ambitious, sophisticated and is very wealthy. The only daughter of the St. Clair family, she is in the planning process of her wedding to Wesley, a Southern businessman but is hiding a secret she must tell him before she marries. Julia finds herself with time on her hands now that she has quit her job to move back home to San Francisco to begin planning her wedding with her mother, Lolly.

Annie Quintana has been used to taking the back seat in life, especially when it comes to Julia or the St. Clair family. Annie's mother Lucia was the housekeeper for the St. Clair's and also became a close personal friend to Lolly during the time she worked there. Annie grew up with Julia since they lived in a small apartment on the St. Clair estate and was provided for by the St. Clair family. Attending the same schools as Julia since they were both only children. It made sense for them to be friends. Lucia died in the kitchen after having a brain aneurism and after attending the funeral and dealing with issues in high school, the girls grew apart.

Now that Annie has been asked by Lolly St. Clair to cater her party by bringing her delicious cupcakes, Annie and Julia are reunited. By this reunion isn't a warm one. The reader gets a sense that something more has happened between the two girls and as they begin to make plans to go into the cupcake business together, the reader is taken on a journey between alternate points of view between Julia and Annie.

As they come to terms with how they can work together in running this business, the reader gets a sense that all is not what it seems to be. Annie is warm and hard working, trying to find a way to make her cupcake business a success while still working through some unresolved issues with Julia that happened in high school. Julia on the other hand remains distant from wedding plans, avoids confrontation with Annie over what issues she has with her, and seeks solace in sharing drinks with her ex boyfriend Jake Logan.

I received How To Eat A Cupcake by Meg Donahue compliments of Harper Collins Publishers for my honest review. The beginning of the book starts off pretty slow for me trying to figure out where these two fit into each other's lives but about 1/3 of the way through the story picks up. I related to Annie the most, having been raised in Julia's shadow most of her life, she seeks resolution with Julia before she can move forward but Julia is constantly changing the subject or passes it off without realizing the impact it had on Annie's childhood. Julia is a bit self absorbed and likes to be the center of attention, seeking to remain at the top of whatever event is going on at the time. I really liked this book because it portrays a unique connection between the two women who come from different walks of life but are drawn together in a compelling way. I rate this one a 4.5 out of 5 stars and highly recommend this one for a great summer read. The only thing missing were some recipes for these delicious cupcakes that are invented along the way!
Profile Image for Christine.
1,192 reviews22 followers
January 3, 2013
Estranged friends Julia and Anna are reunited after ten years and open a cupcakery together. They work hard to build a successful business and attempt to rebuild their friendship after difficult high school years destroyed their relationship. Meanwhile, Julia struggles with a past trauma and planning her upcoming wedding, while Anna still tries to comes to terms with her mother's untimely death, while dating a man who seems all wrong for her.

"How To Eat a Cupcake" is boring chick lit with completely unoriginal ideas. Julia and Anna are childhood best friends. Julia (tall, blond, reserved) is the daughter of a wealthy family, while Anna (short, dark, curvy, full of personality) is the daughter of the nanny. Talk about stereotypes. The girls have a falling out in high school which ruins their friendship. The "big reveal" of what happened was certainly poor behavior on Julia's part and I felt bad for Anna, but for Anna to hold resentment for years was juvenile and ridiculous. Julia's "secret trauma" is easy to figure out and Anna's constant complaints about everything were overwhelming. Both girls were unlikable although I will admit they kind of grew on me by the end. The best part of this book were the rotating narratives, which gave me enough of a break to completely not hate either character. This book had the potential to at least be funny, but there were few (if any) laugh out loud moments.
Profile Image for DeB.
952 reviews245 followers
September 30, 2018
The fluffy concoction that I was looking for. Meg Donahue is very competent in this field of low key women’s fiction, and the frothy addition of a food theme added to the enjoyable escapism. A wee mystery, a few romances and some fine frosting and I was comfortably satiated, which was my hope for this sweet this book. Three stars for a solid performance.
Profile Image for Susan Tunis.
712 reviews154 followers
March 23, 2012
I gained weight with every page

I live in San Francisco, where this novel is so evocatively set. After the coldest, dreariest, rainiest week ever, I felt I deserved a treat. I pulled How to Eat a Cupcake off the shelf.

At the novel’s heart, are two very different women with a shared past. Annie Quintana grew up in the carriage house of the St. Clair’s Pacific Heights mansion. Her mother, Lucia, was the nanny to Julia St. Clair, and the two girls were raised practically as sisters. They were the closest of friends until a rift in their teen years. The last time they’d seen each other was at Lucia’s funeral, a decade prior.

As the novel opens, Annie and Julia live very different lives. Annie is a baker who has finally accepted a catering job from Julia’s mother, Lolly. What she doesn’t know is that her erstwhile friend has left New York’s high finance whirl and has moved home for the month’s leading up to her wedding. They have an awkward (and engineered) reunion at Lolly’s party.

And that would have been that, perhaps, but Julia needs something to do with herself that doesn’t involve wedding planning and nurturing the secret she’s keeping from her fiancé and the world. In the midst of a sugar high, she proposes to Annie that they collaborate on opening a cupcake shop. Despite her distrust of Julia, Annie can’t pass up the opportunity to make her dreams come true. And so an uneasy alliance is born.

As the two women work together towards a common goal, they work to heal their fractured relationship. There are many allusions to past wrongs before the full story is eventually teased out, and there are an equal number of ominous foreshadowings, because not everyone seems to want these two to succeed. Beyond that there are subplots about men, parents, business, and many, many references to delicious cupcakes! I will warn you now, the cravings became unbearable. Kara’s Cupcakes, That Takes the Cake, American Cupcake, I hit them all! Let this serve as a warning to all dieters.

The fact that debut novelist Meg Donohue’s prose was tempting enough to send me to multiple bakeries speaks volumes. In many ways, How to Eat a Cupcake is fairly typical women’s fiction. There really weren’t too many big surprises along the way, but that’s not why I was reading it. Sometimes some semi-formulaic entertainment is exactly what you’re looking for. For me, in the midst of some god-awful dreary weather, it was exactly the literary comfort food I needed.
Profile Image for Sara Strand.
1,143 reviews33 followers
July 2, 2012
You know I love me a good chick lit book, but I've grown frustrated with most of what I have read recently. Every story sounds like another book I have read. I feel like this is like a few books but we changed up the setting and put some cupcakes in it.
Part of what made this just a mediocre book for me is that it never hooked me, drew me in to keep reading. I could predict everything that happened, the fights/arguments between Annie and Julia, and the ending. And it's so frustrating because I felt like the author wanted to have this fun book that would be a fun book club read or something to share among friends and this just doesn't get there. The characters are predictable and... stereotypical? Annie is the low income Hispanic person who holds a grudge against the world and then there's Julia, privileged, wealthy white girl. You know what happens, you know why they had their big rift and you know how it ends.
Overall, if you really love chick lit and that's really the only genre that gets you reading- pick this one up, you won't be disappointed. On the other hand, if you read to get a new story, or to experience something, wait for my next review.
Profile Image for Sonja Reid.
81 reviews3 followers
May 2, 2012
I didn't start this book expecting great things, which usually frees me up to enjoy fluff without remorse.
I still wasn't all that thrilled by it.

Maybe it was all the knowing references to "the effects of aging" by characters who are 28. Maybe I am oddly unmoved by the Poor Little Rich Girl thing. Maybe it was the rather boring who-dunnit sub-plot. Or the lamely two-dimensional male characters. Or that I have a hard time suspending disbelief and thinking of cupcake bakeries as anything like a real long-term "business venture," even though there are real businesses that have done it just fine.

I did walk away from it thinking that the author seemed capable of more than this, but I don't think I'll be reading more of her books to find out.
Profile Image for Aleida Oskam.
201 reviews1 follower
June 8, 2017
Wat een leuk boek was dit. In het begin vond ik het wat lastig om in het verhaal te komen maar uiteindelijk lukte het wel. Wat ik leuk vond is dat het vanuit de optiek van beide vriendinnen werd geschreven waarbij ze ieder hun eigen verhaal hadden maar wat uiteindelijk toch ook weer bij elkaar kwam. Er zitten tot op het laatste deel van het verhaal dingen in die je niet echt verwacht. Dit maakt het voor mij een goed boek.
Profile Image for Melodie.
588 reviews64 followers
August 8, 2017
Childhood friends with a difficult past are thrown together as adults. And to complicate things further, they are in business together! One is entitled, the other has a chip on her shoulder. Both have some growing up to do if the cupcakery they have opened is to succeed.
Overall this was a decent light read. There was a twist or two to keep it interesting. If you can suspend belief that this arrangement could actually work, pack it in your beach bag and enjoy.
Profile Image for Meg - A Bookish Affair.
2,444 reviews197 followers
September 22, 2013
Mmmm, cupcakes! Mmmm, books about cupcakes. I love foodie fiction and I was very excited to read this book because 1. it's about cupcakes and 2. I had heard some good things about this book from some other book bloggers (and we all know that book bloggers are awesome so there's that). This is also a story about a redeemed friendship.

I really liked both of the main characters in the book. Annie seems like a person that I would really like to be friends with. She seems like a lot of fun. Julia doesn't start out looking so great but ends up with a redemption that is really fantastic. They grew up best friends. Annie's beloved mother worked for Julia's family but Annie and Julia were more family than anything else until something happens between them during high school. The book is told from the alternating perspectives of Annie and Julia, which I thought was a particularly good strategy for this book. I liked seeing both sides of the story as you get a chance to understand everything that happened a little bit more.

This book also has a couple little mysteries within it that really added to the overall storyline. There were some pretty good twists and turns in the book that I really liked following.

This book moves very quickly and sometimes I wish that it had slowed down a little bit with more detail added but overall, it's pretty good.

Bottom line: This is a great book about friendship!

September 26, 2012
Donohue has blasted her debut novel right out of the ballpark. It was moving, believable, well written and real. The characters were well developed and despite their imperfections you found yourself rooting for them, grieving with them, celebrating with them...just simply feeling for them throughout the entire novel. The novel was perfectly paced and it kept me engaged from start to finish. Just when I thought I may have figured things out Donohue threw me for a loop. I am so excited to see what else Donohue has in store for us as readers. One thing I know for sure is that she has talent and staying power! I rate this book 5 stars and highly recommend it.
Profile Image for Kimberly Russell.
Author 5 books98 followers
July 20, 2012
This one was a bookclub pick. I'm sorry, but I was bored out of my mind (I only made it to page 60). I'm still going to the meeting though because most people are bringing cupcakes. :)
Profile Image for Audrey (Warped Shelves).
672 reviews41 followers
June 20, 2021
A generous 1.5 stars

The only redeeming factor for this book is that it is set in a cupcakery.

For an author with two (2) Ivy League degrees in the arts, you would think that the writing of How to Eat a Cupcake would be a touch superior. However, this story is depthless, and the characters indistinguishable. Thank goodness for the chapter titles being named for their respective narrators (though despite this, I still got confused as to whose POV I was reading). My recommendation to an author who can't write unique voices? Write in 3rd person instead of 1st.

On the subject of 1st person POV, I have a major complaint! This book is relating a year-or-so in these women's lives, right? So when Julia drops her huge bombshell into the plot that we the readers never had an inkling of, even having witnessed her personal life over all these months, that is lazy writing for the sake of shock factor. There is no way that we readers would not have known that this was happening to Julia as it did.

More on lazy writing: the "cheating" drama was forced, out of character, and, again, only happened for shock value and some attempt at plot substance.

How to Eat a Cupcake begins as sugary, fun fluff but quickly degenerates into bland unintelligence. The author prattles her way through the text, "Lah-di-dah, fluffy-fluffy-fluff... Oh, wait, this plot thread needs to be tied up. Hmm, uhh, okay, here's a barely passable solution. Back to work now: fluff! Fluff! Fluff!"

I read skimmed to the end because I was curious about the fate of the cupcakery and the women's relationships. The answers I got were lackluster, boring, predictable, and honestly not worth it.

But I liked imagining the fancy cupcakes!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Heidi.
1,395 reviews152 followers
May 10, 2013
Four stars: A riveting cupcakey read.
Annie closes her eyes, draws a deep breath and tries to vanquish the old ghosts. After ten years, she has returned to the house where her mother worked as a servant for the wealthy St. Clair family during her youth. Ten years ago, her mother collapsed on their kitchen floor and died a few short days later of a brain aneurism. Since then, Annie has avoided the family, until now. Today, she is back to serve her delectable cupcakes for a St. Clair social function. When Annie comes face to face with Julia St. Clair, it is all she can do to maintain her composure. Julia was once her best playmate and friend, but their last year of high school was strained since Annie was the daughter of the hired help and Julia was the popular wealthy girl. Once Julia tastes Annie's cupcakes, she knows that she must open a cupcakery with Annie as it is the only way to take her mind of her own personal demons. However, there are many bumps in the road and it opening the cupcakery will be a strain on the already fragile friendship. Can Annie and Julia finally bury the past?
What I Liked:
*I was expecting a light, fluffy read and was surprised to find a riveting read with plenty of depth and even some mystery. This is more than an easy chick lit read. It is a book about personal growth, forgiveness and learning from one's mistakes. This is a book with plenty of character growth and dramatic change. I was pleased to find that was more than a simple read.
*This is told from the dual view points of Annie and Julia. I am a big fan of first person dual narratives, and I thought that in this book it was executed very well. I loved getting into both Annie and Julia's heads and seeing what drove them and how they viewed one another. They both have plenty of baggage and old demons, Julia especially has a great deal to overcome. It is a rocky journey as these two childhood friends learn to forgive and move forward.
*Julia was a character that totally caught me off guard. When the book opens, she is selfish, fake, cold and unlikable. I honestly for the majority of the book did not enjoy her character. However, by the end, I had a complete change of heart once I learned why she was acting the way she was. Once she conquers her personal demons, she is enjoyable. I love when characters catch me off guard and completely transform.
*I was especially surprised to find that this book had a great deal of mystery and suspense. Again, I was expecting a more cozy type of read and was excited to find that this book had a believable mystery, and I was totally drawn into the story. There are certainly a few surprises and a couple of twists that I didn't see coming as well. This is beyond your average chick lit or cozy mystery as it has depth. Not once did I encounter a situation that wasn't believable, unlike a cozy mystery where I struggle with believability. I enjoyed that this book was about real people in real life situations.
*Finally, I was pleased as punch to find that this book refrained from cliffhangers and love triangles. Everything wraps up nicely!
And The Not So Much:
*I was not a fan of the romance regarding Annie. For the majority of the book it appears she is going to have a romantic relationship with one man, and then that doesn't pan out so she supposedly by the end is involved with a man whom she found to be pompous and a bit obnoxious. I struggled with this because she for the most part didn't like the man and then suddenly it jumps from point A to C and skips over everything in between. I wanted to see it unfold and that doesn't happen.
*Once the two ladies endeavor to open the shop, they start having problems with vandalism. This happens on numerous occasions and it isn't until a brick is hurled through the window that they decide to install a security camera. I thought this was a bit ridiculous as you would think after the first time they would have been all about getting additional security, but there are several incidents before they decide to take action.
*I was a bit disappointed with Julia's admission of guilt toward Annie. I thought that Annie deserved a far better apology than what Julie gave after everything she put Annie through. I was expecting a bit more emotion with this scene, especially since there is so much build up to that point. When it finally arrives, it kind of fizzles.
*This is me being persnickety, but I desperately wanted a few of those delicious cupcake recipes, since I spent the whole book drooling over all the decadent cupcake descriptions, and alas, there are none to be found. I always love to get those bonus recipes at the end of a food type book. So if you are expecting cupcake recipes, you will be disappointed.

How to Eat a Cupcake ended up being an entertaining read far beyond your average fluffy book. This has great characters, plenty of tension and drama and even suspense and mystery with a few twists. If you are looking for a delicious book with a bit of depth then grab this one. I was glued to the pages and stayed up well past my bedtime as I couldn't stop until I reached the end.

Favorite Quotations:
“But wasn’t it only human to want other people’s good fortune for yourself? Or did that make you a bad person?”
“Louise, on the other hand, was half giggling, half moaning her way through a second cupcake, this time a lemonade pound cake with a layer of hot pink Swiss meringue buttercream icing curling into countless tiny waves as festive and feminine as a little girl’s birthday tiara.”
“I seem to leave every encounter I have with you with my own words ringing unattractively in my ears and the distinct taste of my own foot in my mouth.”
“Sometimes,” he said slowly, “the things that happen when we’re young are the hardest to let go of.”

FTC Disclosure: I borrowed this book from the library. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.
Posted @ Rainy Day Ramblings

June 14, 2022
This probably should have been a DNF for me, but once I've started something I usually want the closure, so I struggle to quit. In an effort to clear old books off my TBR I grabbed this one which has sat on my list for 10 years from the library. This book is totally skippable. The characters are all cliches, and I did not really care about any of them, in particular Julia was abominable. The plot has conflicts that are really never resolved or fully dealt with, and yet characters somehow manage to just quickly move on from them. The plot moved pretty slowly with heavy foreshadowing, but no real action until the final 25%. I did not look forward to picking the book up, it more felt like a chore I was completing. There's a reason this one didn't hold up over 10 years, and my library had to borrow it from another library. Do yourself a favor and skip it.

CW: miscarriage; arson
Profile Image for Kristi .
448 reviews37 followers
March 15, 2012
I really liked the way that the author told Annie and Julia's story. The timeline went from June to May with the chapters alternating between the two young women. It was almost as if they were sitting in front of you, telling you the story as a friend. There were times I wanted to laugh and times I wanted to cry and times I wanted to shake one of them to open up their eyes as to what was in front of them!

The girls grew up together since they were babies - they might as well have been sisters. Annie got to do a lot of the same things that Julia did, thanks to Lolly and Tad - Julia's parents. Over time, Lucia, Annie's mom, though employed by the St. Clair's, became Lolly's best friend. When the girls entered high school though, the dynamic between the two of them began to change. They went to a private high school, Devon Prep, and for Julia, it was like coming home. She fit in perfectly and didn't think about pulling Annie along with her. Annie, being the daughter of the housekeeper, was only at Devon Prep thanks to Lolly and Tad. She didn't fit in well, but adjusted, until rumors blew her life apart her senior year. Her mother died that summer and she left soon after for college, and did her best to not look back.

Lolly St. Clair, however, kept tabs on Annie, and urged her to provide the cupcakes for one of her charity functions. This is where the story really begins - the above you learn through flashbacks. Annie reluctantly caters the function and runs into Julia, whom she didn't know was back in town. Julia hasn't thought much about how her actions in high school almost derailed Annie for good, and can't understand why Annie is still holding a grudge.
"Of course, that was back when I still cared about making Julia happy, before I realized that the person releasing that peal of laughter was a manipulative, lying, cruel young woman who was trying her damnedest to ruin my life." (p14 - Review copy)

Julia is actually in town to plan her wedding to Wes, a southern charmer who adores her. She is keeping a secret from him though, and the more time that passes, the harder it is to tell him. Instead of planning a wedding she decides she needs something else to occupy her mind. Since she is in love with Annie's cupcakes, she decides that her and Annie should go into business. She would provide the capital and after a year, Annie could buy her out and she would go on with her new married life. She sees no problems with this, as Julia has usually gotten whatever she wanted. I thought this passage described her pretty well:
"I had, I'll admit, affected a certain style - a method, if you will - of cupcake eating. To begin, you remove the cupcake liner carefully so as not to unnecessarily crumble the cake, and set it aside. You then turn the cupcake slowly in your hand, taking bites along the line where cake meets icing, your mouth filling with a perfect combination of both components. Once you've come full circle, you gently twist off the bottom half inch of cake, a move that takes considerable finesse -- leaving a delicate sliver of cake -- the ideal size for lying flat on your tongue and allowing it to slowly dissolve, building anticipation for that final bite. To finish you are left with the center cylinder of cake and icing, the cupcake's very heart, sometimes filled with a surprising burst of custard or jam or mousse, sometimes not, but always, always, the most moist, flavorful bite of the entire cupcake. Take a breath before diving into that final perfect bite, it is to be savored for as long as possible. Finally, of course, you scavenge the crumbs from the cupcake liner you set aside during step one, then ball the liner into your fist and overhand it into the nearest receptacle. Make the shot? You get another cupcake." (p30 - Review copy)

Can't you just picture this woman in your head? I know that I don't eat a cupcake this way (well, I will admit, I did try it today!) Annie is nothing like this, diving right into her cupcake and eating away. This was their take on life as well. Julia's was planned out, well, had been planned out until something happened that made her unable to see her future and really making her wonder about her upcoming wedding and future. And Annie, who has worked multiple jobs just to be able to pay rent, never knowing if she would have enough for the next month. Add to those differences the slight Annie still feels from high school and you have a recipe for an upside down cake!

I liked Annie right off, but took a little while to warm up to Julia. Even by the end of the book, I liked her better, but still wondered if she truly knew, or could even fathom, what she had done to Annie in high school. Coming from her background, I am not sure that is something she could really understand. Oh, and you think you have a nice little chick lit book here, and then the suspense starts to build toward the end as the vandal who has been doing a little nuisance vandalism to their cupcakery ratchets up his game a notch.

Profile Image for Laurel-Rain.
Author 6 books229 followers
February 9, 2012
Two young girls grow up side by side in San Francisco's Pacific Heights district, but they live totally separate lives. Julia St. Clair is the wealthy daughter of Lolly and Tad; Annie Quintana's mother Lucia fled Ecuador as a teenage single mom, and now works as a nanny/cook for the St. Clairs.

Over the years, however, the girls become best friends, attend the same schools (thanks to the largesse of the St. Clairs), and seemingly are like family to one another.

But what happens during the high school years, and how Julia played a role in those changes, will inform their lives for more than a decade. Annie's mother's death is like the final event that breaks the bond.

When Julia comes back to SF after living a successful life in New York, the women connect again when Annie caters a charity luncheon at the St. Clair home.

Julia reaches out to Annie with a business proposition: she wants to invest capital and help start up a cupcakery with Annie, whose talent for cupcakes borders on perfection. The contract includes a clause where Julia will exit the business after she marries in about a year. So, despite her reservations, Annie agrees.

But what secrets have captured Julia that could devastate her future? And what strange events happening regularly at the Mission District cupcakery dubbed "Treat" could threaten their security, their futures, and possibly their lives?

"How to Eat a Cupcake: A Novel" is narrated alternately between Julia and Annie. Just when I thought Julia could not be more annoying or self-absorbed, I would read her story and start to understand her perspective. Annie's sharp wit and sarcasm evaporate when, in her voice, we come to understand the loneliness, the sadness, and the hurt that have populated her life. I really felt that something important could happen between them, but instead, we see the conflicts and misunderstandings dissipate rather quickly after a horrific event at the cupcakery. Perhaps that moment could have made everything clear to them, but I don't think emotional distance could dissolve with such ease.

What kept me rapidly turning pages, however, were the mysterious events at the cupcakery and trying to sort out who was vandalizing and threatening them. I had it figured out before the end, but there was still some suspense as the exciting and dangerous events kept unfolding until the final piece fell into place. I also loved the delicious descriptions of the cupcakes and the unique presentations of each of them. A delectable cozy read with a few plot points that didn't work for me. Four stars.
November 14, 2012
I knew that I had to read this book from the second I saw that cover and read the title! Isn't is awesome? Clean lines and so appealing...with the perfect mix of colors :) Luckily for me, the inside of the book completely lived up to that wonderful cover. (We're not always so lucky, are we?)

Meg Donohue's writing style and pacing of the novel were perfect. I loved how the narration took turns every other chapter between Anna and Julia. I'm finding that I am really enjoying this trend of dual POVs...more than two and I tend to find that it takes away from the novel. The characters of both Anna and Julia got under my skin quicker than I would have thought...I don't always find myself making quick connections to characters in Chick Lit but this book was the exception. I liked them both immediately and was sucked into their fears and secrets, hopes and dreams, more and more as the story developed.

This is primarily a story about friendship...what it means to really be a friend and how the bonds of friendship can transcend time, space and at times even betrayal. I loved slowly finding out the history behind Anna and Julia's friendship and eventual rift...and watching as time, hard work, trust and communication, mutual goals and a healthy dose of a mutual adversary...led them back to each other.

This is also a story about following one's dream and having the courage to make it happen. I for one can certainly confess to having had many a daydream about opening my own small business (a bookstore) and learning about how these two made it happen was tons of fun...I actually wouldn't have minded if more of the story focused on the nuts and bolts of getting their cupcakery up and running.

Add in a little romance and a dash of mystery and suspense and you have an amazing tale... What would it take to make this story almost perfect?? Cupcakes! Swoon-worthy, drool-worthy, "I need to go out and find a cupcakery at 1am in the morning" cupcakes! And that was precisely the final element that Donohue delivers by the dozen. Mmmmmmm....I'm getting hungry again right now.....
Profile Image for Kelly.
8 reviews3 followers
September 6, 2011
I must admit when I picked up this book I was looking for a light hearted read, easy going that I could pick up and put down at will. What I got was a brilliantly worked story leaving me turning pages until the early hours (not to mention craving cupcakes.)

Meg Donohue writes this in a way that slowly feeds our the information and secrets right to the very end which is what keeps you hooked.

What I liked: I loved both characters and really connected with them, especially Julia who clearly displays the depression she's feeling in a realistic way that many can probably relate to. I also laughed out loud at parts, I loved the friendship between Annie and Becky with the effortless humour true friends have. The relationship between Annie and Julia shows a real sister like bond especially during the times they can't stand each other. The cupcake shop was of course everything I could want and I loved being able to escape into that world with them.

What I disliked: I really hated the character of Jake Logan, he was so one dimensional but of course that was the point. There was nothing to him, he was a shallow nobody.

I often find with some of the books in this market that the characters are childish, frustrating and predictable on their quest to self discovery but this was refreshingly different. Both strong women trying to move on from the past with their new adventure but just like in real life you can't run from your demons.
Profile Image for Samantha March.
1,102 reviews285 followers
January 14, 2013
I received a copy of How to Eat a Cupcake by Meg Donohue in exchange for an honest review.

What a home run of a book! It gives me chills when I find a book that I find irresistible from page one, and this exactly what happened with How to Eat a Cupcake. The dynamic between Annie and Julia was tense, loving, troubled, and supportive –all wrapped into one. These characters really leapt off the pages and made this impossible to put down. I loved the mystery surrounding the death of Annie’s mother and also with the cupcakery break-ins. I think I could go on and on about how much I loved this novel, but I’ll just say go read it – and grab yourself a cupcake!
Profile Image for Ruth.
131 reviews
March 13, 2012
I am happy to be able to report that I really, really enjoyed this book! The characters were likeable, interesting, and believable. I was very intrigued by the idea of girls who grew up together as sisters, through the odd circumstance of being one's parent employed by, and living with the family of the other. And I thought the book was very realistic in its approach to that premise. The book is set in San Francisco, which adds a nice element. Also, any book that includes so much discussion of cupcake flavors is definitely worth a read!
Profile Image for Becky.
105 reviews
February 20, 2014

I really want to rush to a bakery and get a glamorous cupcake and try to eat it the way Julia does, I think I might need to get two because I might not get it right the first time! this was a fun book, relationships re-learning each other, misconceptions, misunderstandings, human.The women in this story are both likeable and while reading you just know it's all going to work out but what keeps you reading is How?
The descriptions of cupcakes did have me snacking my way through the story so be prepared.
Profile Image for Angela.
294 reviews6 followers
February 26, 2013
I loved this book. I like that there was a little mystery but not overwhelming the plot of the book. It was interesting to read the story from both perspectives. It made me realize both girls were being ignorant, which I'm sure is the case with me when I'm fighting with someone.

Fun story, really likable characters..... Now if the cupcake shop were real. This book left me craving cupcakes for days (0=
Profile Image for Kate.
40 reviews
October 16, 2016
The book had its moments, though not as intriguing of a book as I had thought it was going to be. Might give author Meg Donohue another try though with Dog Crazy. All in all not a terrible book but it didn't have exactly what I was hoping for.
Profile Image for Jaynan.
48 reviews
March 31, 2013
I loved this book! It's fluffy fun and full of yummy delights and a bit of romance.
Profile Image for Di.
523 reviews16 followers
March 22, 2014
Further proof that you can't judge a book by it's title or cover. Fluff, but lot's of substance. Enjoyable and at times humerous.
Profile Image for Elisabeth.
270 reviews2 followers
April 26, 2018
This book was a struggle for me to get through. I really felt like the first half dragged and all the action happened in the last 25%. Character development was lacking- Both main characters seemed one dimensional to me, and they kept alluding to their past falling out, but never really clued the reader in for over half the book. Frustrating to get through. However, I appreciated the themes of change, forgiveness, and reconciliation.
Profile Image for Celia Weekes.
22 reviews
June 21, 2020
This was a light summer read. I enjoyed the characters as they sorted through their past relationship and moved forward as adults. They decide to go into business together and open a cupcake business. I admit that the description of the cupcakes had my mouth watering. A few recipes thrown in would have been awesome.
Profile Image for Wendy.
242 reviews10 followers
March 17, 2020
Soft, warm and sweet- just like a cupcake should be.
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