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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...

378 pages, Hardcover

First published January 3, 2012

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About the author

Sarah Ockler

9 books2,332 followers
Sarah Ockler is the bestselling author of six young adult novels: The Summer of Chasing Mermaids, #scandal, The Book of Broken Hearts, Bittersweet, Fixing Delilah, and Twenty Boy Summer. Her books have been translated into several languages and have received numerous accolades, including ALA's Best Fiction for Young Adults, Girls' Life Top 100 Must Reads, Indie Next List, and nominations for YALSA Teens' Top Ten and NPR's Top 100 Teen Books.

Sarah is a champion cupcake eater, tea drinker, night person, and bookworm. When she's not writing or reading at home in New York City, she enjoys taking pictures, hugging trees, and road-tripping through the country with her husband, Alex.

Visit her website at sarahockler.com or find her on Twitter or Facebook.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,231 reviews
Profile Image for Wendy Darling.
1,572 reviews33.9k followers
January 26, 2012
If you're about to start reading this: put everything down. Step away from the book, find yourself a good half a dozen cupcakes first, and then come back. Because if you don't, you're going to spend a couple of hours in a frenzy of longing over the incredible desserts whipped up in this book and you may end up gnawing off your own arm.

Dark chocolate cupcakes with red peppermint mascarpone icing, edged with chocolate and crushed candy canes

Miniature banana cupcakes smeared with a thin layer of honey vanilla icing

Vanilla cupcakes topped with whipped peanut butter cream cheese icing, milk chocolate chips, crushed pretzels, and a drizzle of warm caramel.

*Drool.* What was I saying? Oh, the book! Hudson Avery is a master baker at the age of seventeen. She's stuck in a dead-end job in her mom's diner, trying to help the family make ends meet after her parents' divorce, and doing her best to forget estranged friends and missed opportunities. One day, while she's on break, she puts on her skates and coasts along the edge of frozen lake. Suddenly, a boy named Josh Blackthorn literally crashes into her and Hudson's life takes a totally unexpected turn when she's asked to help coach their school's losing hockey team.

This book reminds me of a really great mash-up of the movies Waitress + The Cutting Edge + the gentle discovery of new romance in Sarah Dessen books. It's a super cute novel filled with ice skating, baby marshmallows, and all kinds of fun ideas that appeals to the curious and crafty side of me, including the intriguing thought of putting ice cream in hot chocolate, making carousel cupcakes with a straw and animal crackers, hand-tinting frosting, and that sort of thing. I had a great time with the dates-that-weren't-really-dates, the relationship between Hudson and her adorable little brother Bug, and the practice sessions with the hockey team, which the boys attend by "skipping their Guitar Hero matches or raw meat-eating contests or whatever it is that boys do in their free time." Hudson's sense of humor is absolutely infectious, and at one point, she dreamily imagines a flirty encounter with Josh as follows:

There are sparks and laughs and flirty little jokes with lots of subtext, and later, after he walks her back to work, he pulls her into a passionate kiss in the parking lot. The word "bliss" appears in a cloud over her head, surrounded by red and pink hearts, and from that moment on, the frothy feel of hot chocolate will bring her back...

Every once in awhile, it's really great to read contemporary romantic YA that's fun and fluffy but not at all shallow. In addition to the more lighthearted side of the book, however, Hudson also carries a lot of guilt over her parent's split, she's also juggling friendship problems, and she desperately wants to make it out of the small town she's lived in all her life. But is pinning all her hopes on a skating competition really the answer? As she notes sadly in French class: I don't know how to speak the language of impossible dreams en francais.

Eventually, the book did feel a bit on the long side to me, and some of the Hudson's decisions later in the story were a little maddening. She's such a likable protagonist, however, that it's easy to forgive her for her mistakes, especially when the book is chock-full of such wit and charm.

If you enjoy romantic comedies or have ever breathed in the warm, sweet scent of a fresh cupcake and thought you'd died and gone to heaven, this is totally the book for you. Hudson says she's never met a problem a proper cupcake couldn't fix, and after reading this book, it's hard not to believe that a cupcake won't help make everything a little better for you, too.

Read BITTERSWEET for Free!

If you're under 19, pop on over to The Midnight Garden, where you can learn how you can sign up for Simon & Schuster's Pulse It Community and read books in advance of their release. Right now Bittersweet and a number of other great YA titles are available to read online, so act quickly before the galleys expire!

Bonus Treat: And now it's time for a little cupcake porn. Hey, I had to suffer through this book without any cupcakes, so it's only fair you should share the pain.

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Profile Image for Katrina Passick Lumsden.
1,779 reviews12.8k followers
July 26, 2014
Why is it so damn hard to find a well-written, likeable protagonist? Why?!

So this book is about cupcakes, figure skating, hockey, and irrational bitches. Hudson Avery (why does her name sound like it's backwards?) is a spineless little wimp, and her mother is an oblivious, controlling shrew. I found it hilarious that while Hudson is trying to juggle school, waitressing (something she didn't want to do, but has to do to help out her mom), baking, training, helping a hockey team in exchange for rink time, and looking after her little brother, her "best friend" is calling her selfish for never hanging out! I kinda liked Dani at first, but then she totally bails on Hudson and treats her like crap just because "girl's night" has been cancelled a few times and Hudson's running around like a chicken with her head cut off. Hello, Ms. Center of the fucking Universe. Oh, and she gets mad at Hudson for hanging out with her crushes, but then she's hooking up with one of the hockey players, too? Self-centered and a hypocrite. Lovely traits.

And yet, they make up at the end. Of course. Her previous "bestie" bailed on her, too. Me thinks Hudson has bad taste in friends. Which doesn't surprise me since she has a raging ladyboner for one boy, but dates a different one instead! Not winning any awards for her emotional IQ any time soon.

Any time Hudson tells her mom she can't do something, her mom goes all nuclear meltdown on her, the bulging eyes, the "you'd better stop being selfish right now, young lady" bullshit that we're supposed to think is somehow making Hudson a better person, but which we know is just completely uncalled for because Hudson already handles way more than most girls her age. The diner gets really good business from the sounds of it, yet they're on the verge of having to close it down...? How does that make any sense whatsoever? She put way too much on her daughter's shoulders, and didn't once, in the however-many-months the book spans, notice that her daughter doesn't have much of a social life. Indeed, she doesn't seem to notice much of anything about her daughter, ever. Unless, of course, that daughter is not kowtowing to her mother and the almighty diner. Then mommy dearest notices. I couldn't figure out where Hudson even found the time to sleep, much less do homework, but it doesn't seem to bother good old mom. When Hudson balked at the idea of filling in as a waitress, her mom got all moody and reproving, like it's somehow her 17-year-old daughter's responsibility to make sure her dreams are realized. I just wanted to scream, "You're the adult! Sort your fucking life out!"

Avery spends 95% of the book whining. I think she may believe it's her purpose in life. Piss and moan my way through these situations and just do whatever 'cause none of it matters in the end, anyway, 'cause none of our lives are going anywhere, and I'm just so put upon and my daddy left me!!

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Jesus. Fucking grow a pair and quitcher bitchin'.

Even Josh, the hunky stud hockey god love interest, is a tool most of the time. He can be really sweet, but then any time Hudson tries to tell him something important, he interrupts her and bails.

Why do I keep finding books about assholes? Is it too much to ask that the main characters aren't so dysfunctional that they make me want to do this:
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Really, is that too much to ask?

Even the cover art is a fail.

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Profile Image for Ariana.
938 reviews1,302 followers
March 20, 2015

There is something so sweet about falling in love for the first time (*).
About all those insecurities you might have, about not knowing what to choose, what is best for you.
About wanting to risk it all but fearing that you will lose everything, about dreaming with your eyes wide open, about waiting for a kiss that might never come..

There is something so sad about broken families (**), about the loneliness the kids might feel when the parents decide not to be part of their lives anymore.
It's in the need to follow their dreams, in the need to make them proud, in the broken little hearts that find for the first time that they are quite alone in a big-big world, it's in the pain of understanding that their father is not coming home, in the fear that he might not care anymore.

There is something heartbreaking about losing your dreams(***).
About waiting for your moment to shine but never get to make it true, about hiding in a dark place afraid to face the world.
About trying too hard, or giving up too soon, about regrets and never-ending, haunting memories, about disappointment and hopes never met, about missing chances.

But there is also something bright about trying, about coming back and struggling to find another dream, about having close your friends and family, about smiling with your heart, about enjoying every moment of your life, no matter how many storms come your way, no matter how hard it is or how many times you've failed before.
Even if I carry the scars of regret for the rest of my life, I know that this winter, for a little while, I was part of something bigger. Something special.

It's all about hope, and dreams, and trying, and wanting...
This is what this story is really about...
And cupcakes. Do not forget the cupcakes and start reading this story with your belly full, or you will end up eating this book page by page.
When life hands you lemons, stuff'em in your Bra Cakes

What I liked about this story is the fact that it made me smile a lot.

I cared for Hudson, I cheered for Josh (hockey boy #1), I smiled with Dani (best friend) and laughed with Bug (little brother), I understood Will (captain of the hockey team).. and I loved it all.

Hudson is one of those awesome characters with her sassy voice, her cute cupcakes names, with her sweet day-dreams, and her troubled hockey-boys-crushing.
Her story is complex, coming from way back when she was a kid following his father's dreams, and it's more about trying to find what she really wants, who she really is.
I liked how she tried to help the guys improve their skating skills, I liked her private lessons with Josh and how shy she became when she was with him (or boys in general). There was something cute and honest in all that she did, as she was always following her heart even when she was wrong or when she made a mistake. Hudson felt like a real person and this made me like her even more.

"But I don't know how to speak the language of impossible dreams en français"

Also, what makes this story really enjoyable is the pack of cute character we have in there.
All those friends Hudson has (Dani and the boys, and even Kara) they were all so nice and had so much to tell. I enjoyed every moment with them and I wanted some more time to know them even better.
"Let's get something strait, wolf pack. I have my own reasons for being here, and they have nothing to do with your sparkling personalities."

My favorite character is Bud, the little brother, because there was something about his innocence that made my heart ache in a way I didn't think it was possible - bittersweet might be a good description. He was so damn cute, and smart, and so fragile but in the same time so mature for his age. He was a sweetheart and I got to love him so much.

Dani was a great source of humor through the story. I wish i had a friend like her. She tried too much, she pushed too much, but she was a really good friend, as much as Hud allowed her to be. It was sad to see them grow apart and I was glad that they got past their differences by the ending.
"The basic rule is to smile a lot," she says, lending me into the kitchen. "Even when you feel like choking someone, keep smilin'. The minute you show them you're pissed, you lose."

And now about the love interest (won't say his name to keep you guessing ):
I wanted more time with him, as Hud has been in love with him probably since before the story even begun, I wanted more moments to see those sparks shine, still, those few moments with them together were precious.
I liked his conversations with Hud, and how he saved her in so many ways, I liked his shyness, even though at times he was such a kid (and I was mostly like: "oh, just kiss the girl already, damn it!"), but they were great together and I waited patiently for them to figure out their feelings and be together after all.

When [he] inches his chair closer to mine and smiles, my stomach fizzes again. Brain to stomach: we talked about this! Knock it off!

As a bottom line, this is a very cute love story, that will make your heart skip a beat or two, also there is more to the story - some drama, some humor as well - there's a bit of everything for everyone, and I really hope that you will love it just as much as I did.

Happy Reading!

(*) "No permanent damage, right?"
"Nah." Just the temporary mental kind, causing my mind to wander dangerously into forbidden crush territory.

(**) Everyone says that the internet is so awesome because you can connect with people from all over the world, but I think it's the opposite. The internet doesn't make it easier to connect with anyone - it just makes it so you don't really have to.

(***)"When you're out here alone, contemplating all the things you didn't do and the person you didn't become ... if you think about it too long a hush seeps into the gray space, and the wind will hollow out your bones, and the purest kind of loneliness comes up from the inside to swallow you like an avalanche"

This review can also be found at ReadingAfterMidnight.com

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Profile Image for Claude's Bookzone (on hiatus).
1,501 reviews201 followers
June 4, 2021
3.5 Stars rounded up to 4.


Well that was quite funny and engaging!

This was such a pleasant surprise. I thought Hudson was quirky and endearing as she struggled to realise her dreams of being a figure skater in and amongst family responsibilities, finding time for her friends, and the new challenge of helping the boys ice hockey team end their losing streak. It was cheesy in parts, but not the overly cringe inducing variety, just the normal level you'd expect in a light hearted YA romcom novel. I have actually ordered two copies for the library as I think it will have a lot of appeal.
Profile Image for Limonessa.
300 reviews508 followers
February 20, 2012
And the award for lousiest friend of the year goes to...

Hudson Avery!

The story starts with Hudson being on the verge of becoming a figure-skating star. On the day of a very important competition, she discovers her parents are about to divorce and her whole life shatters into pieces like a beautiful ice sculpture.
Fast-forward 4 years. Hudson Avery is now 16 and, besides going to school, she works in her mom's diner, baking the most delicious cupcakes ever.
She's permanently hung her skates, but when the occasion arises for a spot in the limelight again, Avery starts to wonder if anonymity is really what she wants in life and what her dreams are really made of.

Bittersweet was for me a very cute, frustrating read - and I never thought I would use those two adjectives together.
Let's say it definitely lived up to the oxymoron it represents.
So let's categorize what I liked and what I didn't according to that:


As I mentioned in the beginning of this review, Avery is a very lousy friend. She's probably worse than a back-stabbing one, because she's of the kind that walks away, cuts you out of her life without even telling you why, and you start wondering if you were even friends to begin with. Her behavior definitely clashed with her hilariousness - I loved her Parallel Hudson references - and I wondered more than once why did she have to push everybody away so much, especially the people that really cared about us.
Her mother is not much better in that sense, and she got on my nerves quite a bit. How can you expect your daughter's dreams to be the same as yours? I'm quite sure it's encoded in a mother's DNA the desire for her children to have a better life, not a mediocre one. How can she want her daughter to take over a diner?! Beats me.
The last bitter element of this book was the anti-climactic climax. I waited and waited for it to happen and when it came.... I didn't get it. No, scratch that, I wanted to whack Hudson on the head with a skate .


Now, I come from a country which is home to the most famous cuisine in the world. American restaurants here are called McDonald's (well... everywhere else too).
We do not have cupcakes. At all. Reading this book, I wished I could have jumped on a plane and gone to the States just to grab some like those described in here. And Ockley, you definitely want to put pictures at the beginning of each chapter for these mouth-watering creations!
Anyway, the whole cupcake theme was extremely cute and fun (and by the way, WHY is there a cracker on the cover?! You tell me about cupcakes for the whole book and then you put a cracker on the cover?) and it gave a colorful and sensorial feel to the story - I swear I could almost smell them....
The romance is also really cute. Aside from the presence of my newly acquired favorite hottie icon, the hockey player.... what was I going to say? Yeah, there is no aside... HOT HOCKEY PLAYER!

Bittersweet is a light, humorous read that, in my opinion, manages to entertain without coming out as shallow. A good book to kick back and relax after a long day at work.
Not to be read on an empty stomach.

For this review and more come on over to The Nocturnal Library.

Profile Image for Syndi.
2,897 reviews634 followers
April 14, 2022
I do like the story with ice skating romance. Not so many authors choose this trope. Many choose hockey.
Bittersweet is sweet. Miss Ockler brings the story to live.

However I found the plot mundane. I want to see more drama/ twist on the plot. I really do. I feel pity with such great promising idea, the execution fells a little bit flat.

Overall, I still enjoy the book OK.

3 stars
Profile Image for Reynje.
272 reviews962 followers
June 20, 2012
3.5 stars

I’ve just finished Bittersweet, and about three things I am absolutely positive. First, I really want a cupcake. Second, there’s a part of me – and I’m not sure just how determined this part of me is – that wants to brave the cold outside just to go get a cupcake right now. And third, I am undeniably and absolutely using this cupcake craving to delay writing a review.

Bittersweet is a decidedly cupcakeish book – sweet and indulgent. Heck, it even has a frosted cover.

The thing is, I don’t think I have enough of a sweet tooth to fully appreciate this novel’s charms. Because contrary to the title, there is scant bitterness to be found tempering the pages. Sure, Hudson doesn’t lead a charmed life. She has issues of the home, heart and high school to contend with. A cheating, absentee father. An abandoned pro ice-skating career. A friendship hanging by a tenuous thread. The possibility of never getting out of Watonka. Not one, but two hot guys on the sidelines. Etcetera.

This is the second Sarah Ockler book I’ve read, and while I’ve enjoyed both and would recommend them, I can’t say I’ve fallen in love with either. Ockler has snappy, smooth writing, her characters are accessible and the plots realistic – I just haven’t found them particularly memorable. While Bittersweet was a lovely book to sink into for a few days, I’m not convinced it will leave a lasting impression.

Bittersweet is about figuring out what’s really important – the messes that get made in the process. For all Hudson’s actions could be seen as incredibly self-centred and blinkered, I felt that she read as an authentic teenager. Her tenacity, while perhaps misplaced, and pursuit of her goals felt like a logical response to her situation. I admired her determination to achieve something, even if it took her some time to work out exactly what that should be. Hudson’s struggle to balance her relationships with her ambition was realistically handled, and probably the element of her story that resonated with me most.

In both Fixing Delilah and Bittersweet, Ockler has written complicated mother-daughter relationships – women who seem to be at cross purposes due to a break down in communication. The unbalanced dynamic between Hudson and her mother is well-handled, and Ockler writes their interactions with a great deal of insight and subtlety.

On the other hand, the romantic subplot is not quite so understated. This is right-for-the-romantic-jugular stuff, with lots of pounding hearts, near kisses, shivering and gentle touches. The relationship between Hudson and her primary love interest is cute, even rather swoony – but I felt less of a connection with this part of the story. (The use of one of my least favourite plot devices – the miscommunication – might have had something to do with this.)

I’ve probably come down a little harder on this book than I intended – so I’ll reiterate that I really liked Bittersweet. Particularly Hudson’s self-deprecating humour, which really worked against the “my life sucks” elements of the story. The supporting characters, particularly Dani, Bug and Will, also felt vital and well-realised, giving the story dimension. Ockler has a lovely, conversational style that fits her protagonist.

Bittersweet is definitely some kind of delicious. It’s just not something I could have every day without getting a toothache.
Profile Image for Giselle.
990 reviews6,365 followers
December 23, 2011
Red Hot Double Crush Cakes:
Ginger vanilla cupcakes with chilli-infused dark chocolate cream cheese frosting, dusted with cinnamon.

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you, the cupcake Queen of Watonka! That's right, Hudson is the queen of everything cupcake and a wonderful character to boot. Living in a humble little town just getting by on her mother's diner income, Hudson has thrown herself into creating (delicious) cupcakes to forget that she once had big dreams. However, these dreams are being dangled in front of her face once more. Hudson has this personality that you can't help but ADORE. She is down to earth, she loves to make up amusingly exaggerated scenarios in her mind as well as being incredibly responsible and smart which I admired.

With every chapter beginning with a delicious cupcake recipe, Bittersweet will make your mouth water at every turn. When it's not because of these delicacies, it will be because of our dear - and numerous - boys that are swarming the pages of this book. See, Hudson has a deal with the hockey captain, she gets ice time if she gives this much needed team some skating advice. And, since boys will be boys, it gets pretty entertaining. I enjoyed the playfulness and the teasing that we were bound to have. They are a great bunch of personalities that fill this book with humor and charm.

What I enjoyed the most about this novel, though, is the romance. Bittersweet holds a brilliantly written love story that is flawed- but perfect. I loved every moment, every kiss, every worry, and every tear. There is absolutely no insta-love involved, it feels completely real and perfectly enchanting. As they often say, the journey is the best part!

For fans of Catching Jordan, Sarah Ockler gives us a novel filled with family, love, cupcakes and hockey boys that is simply... bittersweet!

For more of my reviews, visit my blog at Xpresso Reads
Profile Image for Nomes.
384 reviews376 followers
January 11, 2012
Sarah Ockler has secured herself a place on my must-buy author list. I really enjoyed her previous two novels Twenty Boy Summer and Fixing Delilah but I think her third release, Bittersweet, is my favourite.

On the surface, there is not big drama or conflict in the book: it is a coming of age book involving ice skating, friendship, cupcakes, hockey boys and family. Yet, Ockler masterfully builds tension, in a quiet and compelling way the whole way through (with an achey mess of a climax, poor Hudson). It's not just the tension that kept me reading all night long (I finished at 4am), it is the way Ockler writes: her prose is gorgeous, rich but never overbearing, her sentiments so beautifully expressed it is easy for me as a reader to get swept up in the characters lives.

But for me, my favourite part of this book is, by far, the characters. Each character, whether major or minor, was so nuanced, so lovingly crafted, that the whole book springs to life. The relationship between Hudson and her mum and her brother so perfectly depicted. The friendships, their good times and bads, so real and achey and fun and true.

The whole book feels incredibly vivid ~ from the people to the winter-y setting, to Hudson's emotions ~ all of it, just truly wonderful.

For those who know my reading taste ~ this book completely delivered for me. Compelling characters, vivid setting, engaging drama (without being melodramatic) and gorgeous, envy-inducing prose.

And I saved the best until last (because loving a book is not just about falling for the boy...): Ockler knows how to create her love interests. There's plenty of swooning and aching between Hudson and Josh, co-captain of the ice hockey team. Josh has made it securely onto my swoon-y hall of fame - loved all of Josh's scenes ;)
Profile Image for Jasprit.
527 reviews747 followers
January 18, 2012
Bittersweet was one of those books which leaves you with warm fuzzies, it’s a book full with banter, fun, charming characters and mouth-watering cupcakes that you can’t help but smile your way through it.

Hudson was a talented skater, she had the raw talent, and drive to get really far, until on the night of her regionals at the empire games . Her father always supported her through her skating career, brought her first pair of skates, paid for her training, gave her endless encouragement and was willing to huge sacrifices in order for her to get far such as selling up Hudson’ mum’s restaurant Hurley’s and moving if they had to. So this new discovery affected Hudson in a major way, her parents already had several cracks in their already problematic marriage and she didn’t want this and her skating to cause any further rifts, so she purposely decides to give up and messes up her big chance. Her life goes downhill from then on; her parents separate, she moves into a dingy small apartment with her mum and brother and are barely getting by with the takings from Hurley’s. That is until Hudson turns to making cupcakes and all of a sudden is known as the cupcake queen of Watonka. Baking cupcakes kind of saves Hudson and the rest of her family; it helps brings in more business to their restaurant, it enables them to ease the pain of their dad leaving, her passion for skating and cheers her little brother Bug up. But then Hudson gets an invitation to a skating competition (the Capriani cup), she gets the chance to compete again, right her mistakes she made when she gave up and if she wins she’ll get $50,000, so the perfect opportunity to finally leave Watonka, she doesn’t want to stay stuck in Watonka running her mum’s restaurant for the rest of her life. But first she needs to get a lot more skating time in, without her mum finding out, she doesn’t want her mum going through the heartache of remembering the memories of her dad. So she makes a deal with the school co-captains Will and Josh, in return for some practice time on the rink, she will act as a special techniques coach for them. Their form has been abysmal as of late (they haven’t won a game in ages or made it to a national competition in the last 20 years) so they’d both be helping each other out.

This book was so much fun; I could probably gush about it for a long time! Ockler created a bunch of characters which were so easy to fall in love with. Hudson, after everything she’d been through you just hoped that someone would cut her some slack . This book didn’t fall short of swoon worthy guys, first there was Josh, and I was swooning over him throughout this book. There were the mixed messages between him and Hudson . In a lot of ways he reminded me of Henry from Catching Jordan always defending Hudson from the rest of the guys on the hockey team, genuinely nice and . As you all probably know I adored Henry and so this could be the reason I was drawn to Josh more than Will. Will, where do I start with him? he’s like the school hottie who has all the girls pining over him, is gorgeous, has the perfect physique and a deliciously sexy smile. Your body becomes acutely aware of when he’s around and just the briefest touch of him or a hint of his scent has your body humming. *sigh* see what I mean? Dreamy guys or what! And then there’s Bug; Hudson’s little brother, you couldn’t help but love him, he was so adorable, I loved his geeky sense of humour and the endless intelligent facts he used to spout.

I absolutely adored the hockey scenes, when the wolf pack were playing a game, but especially when Hudson was trying to train them. The majority of the boys were so full of themselves (except for Will or Josh) reckoning they didn’t need the help and especially from a girl! These scenes were so funny with everyone just goofing around and winding each other up. I loved the whole team spirit which ran through this group and the banter between the guys.

And not forgetting the cupcakes in this story, they were to die for! Whenever Hudson was baking I felt as if I was right there in Hurley’s restaurant with the aroma of cupcakes around me. Also the fact that each chapter started off with a scrumptious cupcake description, I was constantly craving cupcakes throughout the book;

“Vanilla cupcakes with crushed chocolate cookie crumbs
topped with bailey’s cream cheese frosting
and a light dusting of cocoa powder”

Overall Bittersweet is a feel good book, which will instantly bring a smile to your face. Ockler’s writing is beautiful and magnetic and pulls you into her world seamlessly.

If my review isn’t encouragement enough to pick up this book, then I’m sure these beautiful quotes will give you the extra push!

“When you’re out here alone, contemplating all the things
you didn’t do and the person you didn’t become… if you think
about it too long - if you stand here and consider the great
bleakness of it all – a hush seeps into the gray space, and the
wind will hollow at your bones, and the purest kind of loneliness
comes up from the inside to swallow you like an avalanche”

“I turn the speakers on low just in time for the opening chords
of “Bittersweet”. It’s kind of a sad song, slow and mellow and
haunted, none of that everything’s-gonna-be-all-right-fairy dust
crap they play on the radio these days, and that’s exactly what I
like about it. It tells the truth. Sometimes life rocks so hard your
heart wants to explode just because the sun came up and you got
to feel it on your face for one more day. Sometimes you get the
bitter end instead. Life is as gray and desolate as winter on the
lakeshore, and there’s no way around it, no cure, no escape”

Profile Image for ♥Rachel♥.
1,851 reviews846 followers
January 24, 2012
Hudson Avery is the Cupcake Queen of Watonka, not a title she was really aiming for. But while trying to distract her brother Bug from the pain of their father's desertion by baking with him, she ends up making really amazing cupcakes for her mother's diner, Hurley's.

Hudson has had a tough three years. Right before an important skating competition Hudson realizes that her dad has been cheating on her Mom. Hudson feels that their marriage problems are the result of the extra pressure, and demands put on the family by her skating. Hudson purposely loses the competition so that they can have the time together as a family to patch things up. Unfortunately, Hudson's father leaves anyway soon after this disaster. When Hudson throws the competition she loses her best friend, Kara. She knows Hudson lost on purpose, ruining their skating future together. But things are about to change. Hudson receives an invitation to compete for a fifty-thousand dollar scholarship and she starts to hope that maybe she won't be stuck at her mother's diner for the rest of her life. More than that though, Hudson is excited with the prospect of being back on the ice doing something she's truly good at.

While practicing, on a local frozen lake, Hudson runs into (literally) Josh Blackthorn, a captain of her high-school hockey team, his team has been on a losing streak since, forever. It seems Josh has been watching Hudson on her practices, and seeing how talented she is, he has an idea: Hudson should come and give his team technical pointers and maybe they'll quit losing so many games. As a trade off she can use the rink for practice after their sessions. Hudson feels an immediate pull towards Josh but the co-captain, Will becomes involved and takes over arranging with Hudson. Both boys are swoon-worthy in their own right, and so we have another infamous love-triangle. Normally triangles, IMO, are very frustrating but this one is not so much. In the middle of this, Hudson's duties at the diner seem to triple and her mother just keeps piling the work on this poor girl. There's also drama with her current best-friend, Dani because Hudson is pulled is so many directions their relationship takes a backseat.

The title was perfect for this story because there were heartbreaking moments (what is it with the crappy dads in books lately!) and there were some sweet-swoony-scenes, as well. Also, I loved the trash-talking between Hudson and the hockey team, so cute! Go Princess Pink! I loved the internal commentary Hudson always had going, she had you laughing all the way, here's a cute example with Josh:

"When I saw you on the ice…you're really good." He looks straight at me this time, and the Jell-O formerly known as my bones wobbles. I wonder if he knows how amazing those eyes are. He must. That's how he casts his magic, bone-wobbling spells on unsuspecting cupcake bakers.

I must mention, at the beginning of every chapter there is a different description of a drool-worthy cupcake. Here's one:

Cupcakes with Benefits:
Vanilla cupcakes topped with
whipped peanut butter cream cheese icing,
milk chocolate chips, crushed pretzels,
and a drizzle of warm caramel

Yum all the way around!
Profile Image for Emily.
187 reviews302 followers
February 24, 2012
Bittersweet's recipe for success!

1 cup of outstanding cast
I'm going to make a big sweeping statement here. Get ready. Hudson, Dani, Bug, Josh, Will and the rest of the Wolves are Ockler's most memorable characters by far. The chemistry between them shone through on each page and made this book so enjoyable to read. I kinda want to give them all a big hug. Where can I find myself a friend like Dani? Love that girl.

A sprinkle of dreamy prose
When I think of Sarah Ockler, I think of gorgeous, dreamy prose. I think of rolling waves and lovely bookstores and sea glass. After reading Bittersweet, I can add so many more things to that list. Wrapping your hands around a mug of hot chocolate, a bowl of batter, snow and howling wind, a train going around the mountain. She has a way of crafting beautiful, true sentences.

A dash of gorgeous setting
Hurley's, Fillmore Street Mill, Baylor's... each place added something special to the story and was so wonderfully interwoven with Hudson's frame of mind. It's the middle of summer here in Australia, but I swear I could feel the bone-chilling breeze from the lake...

The cherry on top
The ROMANCE. Will Harper - you know he's not the guy for Hudson, but you can't help but want to scream "Just kiss already!" every time they were in the same room. Or car. Or rink. Or whatever. He can brush snow off my car any time he likes.
And Blackthorn. Gosh.

The ingredients that I could've done without...

Hudson being a brat
She treated her friends like crap, she led two guys on at the same time, she wanted nothing more than to leave her family behind for a shot at a glamorous figure skating career... yep, sometimes I just wanted to slap her! Her humour was somewhat redeeming though and, admittedly, I was probably guilty of all those things as a teen.


What kind of review would this be without some cupcakes? Here you go.

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Profile Image for Isamlq.
1,578 reviews710 followers
January 11, 2012
Yays! For a while there I was worried that the YA contemps would be bust this year, what with my last two picks being so non-stellar. But my 4-hour read to 3 in the morning with BITTERSWEET proves otherwise. And while my back says Ouch, Josh and Bug were worth it. I’m half tempted to bring out my fangirl gif.

Picture me thoroughly charmed because I liked all of them. Hudson Avery in particular is big surprise because I don’t normally go for girls her type… the sad on purpose type, the solo flight type, the one friend in all the world type. Yet, there’s just something, (a couple of somethings) about her that cracked me up. She’s sassy. She’s hilarious. And while her life might not have been all roses, she retained her humor and made do. It was just the all the making-do that led to some of the drama (and I do stress the ‘some’ part.)

So, Hud is hilarious and sensitive… and did I mention funny? While there were moments of her broody with her parallel Hudson fantasies of ‘I want out of here,’ I found myself rooting for her because she kept things light:

"I wave, forgetting all about the cool-man nod I practiced in front of the mirror. Josh smiles at me from the line. Oh. Is the pancreas on the left side? Because I think mine just twitched."

"I check the roster and count the boys three time to be sure, looking at them in the eye as I do. It’s a thing I learned from that show where the guy gets dropped in the jungle with nothing but a pillow case, a pack of gum, and a tampon applicator: make eye contact with wild animals to claim your territory and avoid a beat down."

What’s better is she’s not alone in being funny because there’s Dani too. Dani who is of the same feather, only more out there and a little more loud. I love that she’s a romance novel reading, life living funny girl. I enjoyed their BFF dynamic. I liked that they each had their thing, yet had time for the other. But what I liked even more was how Dani was friend enough They held each other up, but pushed each other as well… pushed each other, because really HUDSON could be so unsure and held back by the past. Again DESPITE all of Hud’s flaws, I found myself, like Dani, rooting for the girl.

Then Bug! Wasn’t he just darling? He’s positively precious. I liked that he was the one constant POSITIVE thing in here… because there was drama, which wows me a little more because the drama that was present never went over the top; everything going on in it, read quite possible: the struggle to make ends meet; the tiny resentments and feelings of being overwhelmed, even the losing sight of what’s good and fun… all happen, all the time.

This is what I was hoping for when I picked up The Sweetest Thing a couple of months back. Because in this is a girl who's got problems but doesn’t drown in them or over dramatize, a girl one who keeps it together, tries to make things work and still laugh at the funny things. Now, if there’s one thing to complain about, it’d be her indecision~ over the boys. It’s not incredibly annoying or anything because that ending has me grinning a little (a lot) as I recall it.

This reads real, and possible… and yes, Bittersweet.
Profile Image for Keertana.
1,126 reviews2,163 followers
May 13, 2012
Holy cupcakes, this book was sweet! I don't know what I was expecting when I started Bittersweet, but it definitely wasn't this: a deep, provocative, compelling yet fun story. I completely fell in love with Hudson; her struggles, her relationships, her plethora of mistakes, her revelations, and, of course, her cupcakes!

It has been three years since Hudson's parents split up, three years since her father cheated on her mother, yet his infidelity still seems to hang over their life like a plague. Now, Hudson and her mother are struggling to make ends meet with their small diner, Hudley's, where Hudson makes some of the best cupcakes in town. But Hudson wasn't always a baker - she used to skate. So when a letter arrives, encamping information about a local competition and scholarship money, Hudson sees her ticket out of her small town. Hudson's tired of babysitting her brother, tired of baking hundreds of cupcakes everyday, tired of playing waitress in her own diner and all she wants to do is pursue her passion and skate...or so she thinks. What Hudson wants and what she thinks she wants just may turn out to be two very different things...

I'm not quite sure where to start explaining how much I adored this book. Hudson is definitely one of the most believable characters I've ever read and her every mistake made her more human, more vulnerable, and more realistic than any amount of perfection could entail. You need to know one thing about Hudson Avery: she's not a nice person. She pushes people away, she lies to her mother, she despises yet yearns for her father, and she dates guys she knows she doesn't like. Yet, beneath this exterior is a girl who holds herself responsible for her parents' divorce, a girl who believes that skating is her one-way ticket out of her town, a girl who is, in reality, confused. I was astounded by how the author was able to make Hudson all of these things - deep, emotional, serious - yet her narration was fun, witty, and fast-paced. Bittersweet is a book that covers serious topics, but it by itself is not serious at all. Thus, you could imagine my surprise at finding Hudson's character to be so much more than I anticipated.

I think all the characters in this book were far more than I'd come to expect. Dani, Hudson's best friend, is the type of person I'd pick to hang out with. She's sassy, intelligent, and doesn't give a damn what people think of her. Kara, Hudson's ex-best friend who she not-so-nicely throws out her life, was also likable, despite her initial melodramatic entrances. Bug, Hudson's brother, was my favorite character of all though. He may be a small boy, but he was so much wiser than his young years. His relationship with Hudson was heartbreaking, original, and truly bittersweet. Their sibling care for one another made me wish I had a better relationship with my younger brother and I thoroughly enjoyed every scene with the two of them.

Now: the romance. Josh Blackthorne. Can we just take a moment to appreciate what a swoon-worthy name that is? Who wouldn't fall for this guy? He's nice, sweet, funny, charming, and lacks only one thing: the courage to make the first move. Josh and Hudson's relationship, which first starts out as a deal to help Josh skate better in ice hockey, turns into full-scale coaching for the whole team. I'll just come out and say it: this hockey team is awesome! The guys were hilarious and their encounters with Hudson, from initial dislike to eventual adoration, was some of the best parts of the book. Will, the coach, was not-so-awesome. Will is a nice guy and yes, he's into Hudson, but the whole time they were together, I was just waiting for them to break up. Josh and Hudson bonded over music and skating and the chemistry between them was phenomenal. Will and Hudson? Nothing. Zip. Zilch. Zero. Nada. So while I was happy that there was no I'm-so-confused-which-guy-to-pick love triangle, I was kind of mad that their relationship got postponed for so long. Furthermore, there was an obvious dearth of Josh and Hudson scenes. The moment I finished the book, I was left with a feeling of loss. I wish there had at least been some type of an epilogue. There were so many promised scenes between Josh and Hudson, but we never got them, so that left me feeling disappointed

That being said, Bittersweet was a truly heart-warming read. A lot of readers expressed disappointment over a certain controversial scene towards the end of the novel, but to me, that scene felt the most realistic out of anything else in the book. That was Hudson's turning moment, the point from which she grew and learned as a character. I understand the general disappointment that comes with that scene, but more than that, I understand it and admire Ockler for writing it as it is instead of glossing over it or providing us with unrealistic details of skating champions. There are enough skating movies to compensate for that (my personal favorites: Ice Princess, Ice Castles, and The Cutting Edge. Yes, I know, I watch a lot of skating movies :P).

Overall, Bittersweet was the perfect mix of serious and funny, endearing and realistic, romantic and life-changing. I recommend it heartily, but with one dire warning: don't read this without a plethora of cupcakes sitting next to you. If nothing else, you'll definitely feel hunger while reading this book. It really is that sweet (;
Profile Image for Laura.
38 reviews134 followers
August 14, 2012
I decided that I needed to write even MORE about how much I love this book over at Clear Eyes, Full Shelves.


FNL Character Rating: TAMI AND ERIC!!!!!!

Full Disclosure: I grew up in the Buffalo region and used to figure skate. When I first started reading, I considered making a drinking game out of this book whenever the author referred to something that induced regional nostalgia. After ten pages, I realized if I actually went through with it, I would have to go to the emergency room to have my stomach pumped within a half-hour.


I strongly feel that even with those connections to this book, I would have given it a perfect rating regardless. I think everyone has points throughout life when they have to decide between staying and going (literally and metaphorically), then deal with the consequences of those choices. There are so many emotions wrapped in each choice.

How do you choose between staying home where you have enough and leaving for the unknown where something possibly better but unknown lurks? Do you make an effort to maintain connections or let them slip away, whether you stay or go? Do you take what life/your family hands you, or do you find your own way?

I know I've been faced with all of these questions time and time again, and will probably be faced with them again.

I could go on and on, but instead, I STRONGLY encourage you to read this book, in which Sarah Ockler deals with all of these questions with humor, eloquence, realism, cupcakes, and ice-skating. And an FNL reference. Because who doesn't love all of those things, in real life AND a book?
Profile Image for Jay G.
1,230 reviews464 followers
November 19, 2017
Want to see more bookish things from me? Check out my youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfer...

Hudson Avery used to be a skating star until her father left her family and shattered all her dreams. Now she works at her family's diner as the designated Cupcake Queen. Then news of a skating scholarship comes to her small town and she needs to decide whether she's going to dust off her skates and try to make her dreams come true or hang them up forever.

Honestly, this book was just boring and plain problematic most of the time. The main saving grace for the book was Hudson's little brother, Bug. He is such a sweet little squish and I want to protect him at all costs. The relationship between Bug and Hudson was probably the only thing that kept me reading. Hudson really bothered me, I thought she was selfish and annoying. The whole love triangle thing was also a major drawback for me. I didn't feel chemistry between Hudson and either boy and it just felt like an overdone trope. Also, the relationship between Hudson and her mom was quite unrealistic if you ask me... Hudson is what 15/16 and her mom is expecting her to pay the gas bills for the diner and house? I don't think so. I also don't understand how the diner is apparently close to being shut down but its always jammed packed to the point where Hudson's mom needs her to stay and help multiple times? THIS MAKES NO SENSE. Dani, Hudson's best friend also drove me crazy... half the time she's complaining about how Hudson is selfish for cancelling "girls night" a few times but then completely ghosts on Hudson to hang out with a hockey player after she gets mad at Hudson for hanging out with her crushes.... hello hypocrite?

I just..... no.
Profile Image for Heidi.
1,395 reviews153 followers
January 11, 2016
Four Stars: Grab a cupcake and curl up with this wintery read.

Hudson Avery is feeling trapped and frustrated. Three years ago when she was fourteen, in a moment of anger and annoyance toward her father and his adultery, she threw her ice skating competition and gave up on her dreams as a figure skater. These days, Hudson works in her mom's struggling diner, trying to help keep the doors open. Hudson is known as the Cupcake Queen, as her delicious cupcake confections have helped keep the diner going. When Hudson receives an unexpected invitation to compete in an ice skating competition for a scholarship, she can't help but wonder if she can still seize her dreams or is it too late? As she prepares and trains, Hudson learns a thing or two about life, family, romance and friendship. Will she realize her skating dream?
What I Liked:
*Bittersweet is a book that is perfect for winter. I loved that this is a feel good read, that takes on some realistic teenage issues, but it remains on the lighter side. This is a novel that explores life, love, dreams, friendships, and family. Grab this book, a cozy blanket, a hot drink and a cupcake, and settle in for a delightful read.
*Even though Hudson was at times a trying character, I ended up appreciating that she came across as realistic, and I liked that she had flaws and made plenty of mistakes, especially when it came to her friendships. At seventeen, Hudson is caught in that tumultuous period of adolescence where she is preparing to take those first big steps into adulthood. She dislikes working in the diner, and she feels trapped in her small time life, so she reaches back for the dream she gave up on three years ago. As she struggles and makes a mess of her relationship with her friends and her mom, she learns a thing or two about roots and wings and love. At the end, I liked how Hudson had grown and matured, and I liked the way everything settled out.
*I loved that this book had such a strong focus on family. Hudson is still not over her father's betrayal and his absence, but she does what she can to keep her brother safe and happy. I thought the relationship Hudson had with her eight year old brother was adorable. The mother daughter relationship was one of ups and downs, and at times, it was prickly and strained, but it felt genuine. I thought the author did an excellent job with the familial relationships, and I liked that family was a strong focus throughout the novel.
*Friendship was another important part of the novel. Hudson ends up making a mess of things with her current best friend, and she is forced to examine the end of her previous friendship. She is also making new friends with the boy's hockey team, and she finds her friendship with one boy in particular makes her heart beat a little faster. Just like with the familial relationships, the friendships are up and down, and they have their moments when they stumble. The author did an excellent job with all the friendships, and I liked that they felt genuine.
*The romance is one that is a tiny bit frustrating, and the reader is clued in all along as to whom Hudson should be with. It is romance that takes its time building into a friendship, and there are doubts and hesitation, before it gets to that sweet blossoming moment. It was worth the wait.
*The ending is bittersweet. Not everything works out with a fairy tale happy ending, but isn't that the way real life works? I appreciated some things ended on a positive note, and other things didn't work out as Hudson hoped, but after it all, she seems to have found her path. A sweet and satisfying read.
*I loved the diner setting and all the cupcake references. This book will have you craving cupcakes, especially since there is a sweet snippet at the beginning of each chapter, describing some decadent cupcake creation. Don't read this while you are hungry, you have been warned!
And The Not So Much:
*While I liked the strong focus on family, I couldn't help but feel disappointed that there wasn't any type of movement in Hudson's relationship with her father. I was expecting something on that front.
*The romance was a bit of a struggle for me because it develops into a bit of a love triangle. Hudson clearly has feelings for one boy, but due to a misunderstanding/ lack of communication, she starts a relationship with another. As a reader, I was frustrated because I knew all along she was with the wrong guy. Luckily, it smooths out, so be patient.
*While I appreciated that Hudson made lots of mistakes, there were plenty of times when I questioned her judgement, especially at the end. I especially didn't like the way she treated both Kara and Dani.

Bittersweet is a sweet and satisfying read that explores friendship, family bonds, romance and the trials of adolescence. I appreciated that this was a novel about growth and change, and that it had a strong focus on relationships. This is a perfect book for winter, one I would recommend cuddling up with on a cold day with a sweet treat and a hot drink.

I borrowed a copy of this book from the library. All opinions are my own, and I was not compensated for this review.
Posted@Rainy Day Ramblings.

Profile Image for BlebeTanja.
434 reviews43 followers
February 25, 2014
"Like I always say: I've never met a problem a proper cupcake couldn't fix.

If this were the case, I wouldn't be able to fit through the door in a matter of weeks. Nevertheless, a good cupcake is always appreciated.

I feel obliged to warn you not to read this book on an empty stomach. Even the strong-willed individuals and the ones who claim they cannot easily be tempted will dream of extra-large lemon cupcakes with light pink vanilla cream cheese icing, topped with a maraschino cherry or vanilla cupcakes with crushed chocolate cookie crumbs, topped with Baileys cream cheese frosting and a light dusting of cocoa powder and other imaginative and decadent cupcakes the heroine seems to have a special talent for making (up).

Hudson is your typical teenager whose life is turned upside down when she finds a bra that is neither hers nor her mothers, thus discovering her father is having an affair. Three years later she is hiding away in her mother's diner baking delicious cupcakes that are becoming quite a local delicacy. After she receives a letter from a fundation in her former coaches name offering her a chance of winning a full ice skating scholarship, she decides she will win the competition, get the scholarship and leave her home town Watonka and all the people she knew behind.

This was a light and charming read. The writer pulls you into the story with her dazzling story-telling skills and does not let you go until you finish the last page. I like how the small twists and turns were thrown in to keep the story interesting.

The heroine was to my liking - yet not overly special or exciting. I loved how her relation with her little brother Bug was depicted, he is one of the secondary characters that one never gets tired of reading about. I couldn't help but giggle when I read that he named his hamster Mr. Napkins. Genious! And Bug's robot RustBob SpareParts. Priceless!
I never even imagined she will become so angsty toward the end of the book. Sheesh! She alienated her best friend, she messed things up with the boy she liked and her relationship with her mother was becoming more and more rocky. She really did not know how to handle things. However, I really liked the way Hudson handled the testosterone-fuelled boys on the hockey team. Go Pink!
I will not go into the whole love triangle thing, since I start rolling my eyes at the mention of this ever so popular theme in the young adult novels these days. I don't know what's with the love triangles. Everywhere I turn (well, every book I read) there are love triangles. Damn you, love triangles! Must you still be so popular? Can't a writer create a story without the damn love triangles, am I asking too much ? As you've probably guessed, I'm not a big fan of love triangles. That's so ... mainstream! (Haha, I'd get hammered if I drank a shot of tequila every time I wrote "love triangle". Ha! Once again! Hee.)

Josh was such a cutie pie. I know, not the proper words to describe the captain of the hockey team and one heck of a hottie. Still, he was kind of the underdog in this story and I always seem to cheer for the underdog. He was a quiet, nice, slightly mysterious boy that slowly found the way to Hudson's (and my) heart. And remained there. Aww. Young love ...

I couldn't care less for Will, he smelled fishy from the beginning. Actually he isn't even worth mentioning, so forget I said anything!

Overall, this was a fast-paced and enjoyable read with interesting characters and solid writing. I am looking forward to reading more from Sarah Ockler.

Profile Image for noor.
16 reviews1 follower
October 26, 2017
There are many elements in this book I want to touch on that I don't know where to start. This is going to be a long a** review which may or may not contain spoilers so bear with me. For starters; overall, I felt this book progressed very slowly at the beginning but maybe that was just me because I was coming out of a slump. It opened a lot of storylines: skating competition, Josh, Will, Dani, Kara, working at Hurley's as a waitress, etc. The ending, while cute, was kind of crowded. Ockler was trying to tie up everything in a few chapters but it was too much. I also felt that Will's storyline wasn't tied up very well. More on Will: I felt that his character was underdeveloped. I wasn't able to pin him as either the "dumb jock" or someone using Hudson for the training. He truly cared about her and it showed but couldn't be proven because there wasn't much on Will or at least, sufficient content. But it is my opinion so🤷😂

Hudson...how do I start with her. I did not like her. Believe me, I get the whole struggle with how much she has to do and I'm not saying she brought it on herself but the way she dealt with everything wasn't pretty. I could go on and on pinpointing everything she did wrong but it's going to take too long so I'm going to pick one thing: Will. Even though I was always Team Josh, she still shouldn't have used/played/whatever-it-was him. Their relationship surprised me because Will wasn't described properly so I thought that he was just using Hud for something. That's why I was surprised when it was a bit deeper and I saw that he truly cared about her. Now for her mom...I couldn't stand her at times. Here, I take Hudson's side because her mom shouldn't keep piling her up with shifts that she can't pay attention to her own life. She can to some degree but not crazy shifts. I feel this was because I have a friend in a similar situation where she's always working because her dad tells her to except she doesn't care that she does it...She's used to it and I can't say anything. However, I saw what working 24/7 did to my friend so I understand Hudson's struggles.

Now, this has already gone on too long so here goes: I love Josh because he is soo sweet and their thing that Will talked about is really cute. Sarah Ockler really had me going at the end because I thought they weren't going to end up together because like I said; the end was rushed. The way it ended with the rest of the Wolves, I thought that was also it for Josh and Will. Will deserved a better ending like them being friends again or something. Josh's ending was good, cute like I said but soo quickkkkk.

Last, last, last thing, Dani was really sweet and funny so I really liked her and her badass-ness. What Hudson did to Kara was also really unfair because she didn't do anything except ask for an explanation. Hudson was truly unfair to her even with kissing Will when Kara fully said to her : I think I'm inlove with Will Harper...So that was seriously messed up and inexcusable...whatever were her reasons.

Pages that made me legit LOL: 101, 140, 142, 154, 240, 254, and 300!!!!
Profile Image for Tina.
444 reviews457 followers
August 5, 2018
Original post at One More Page

I wasn't exactly a Sarah Ockler fan and while so many people raved about her debut, Twenty Boy Summer, I was just pretty lukewarm about it. So I wasn't very interested to read her newest book, Bittersweet until I started reading cute reviews about it from some of my trusted reviewers. Curious, I borrowed a copy from a friend and read the first few pages, and before I knew it, I was halfway through. :D

Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler is about Hudson Avery, whose bright figure skating career is just ahead of her. But that was three years ago, before her father left. Now she's the best cupcake maker in the small town of Watonka, baking and serving luscious desserts in their family. diner. When Hudson receives a letter from her old mentor's foundation for a shot at a scholarship, she starts dreaming again. But with Hudson's family relying on her, she's not sure if she can actually go for her dreams. And don't get her started on Josh Blackthorn, the cute hockey player who's sending her seriously mixed signals.

Okay, here's the thing: I loved Bittersweet the moment I read about Hudson being a figure skater and then later looking for the perfect cupcake "to fix all things." A cupcake should be able to fix most of the things, if not all, don't you think? I don't think I've ever shared in this blog ever so let me share this now: 1) I like to bake and 2) I used to dream of being a figure skater. The only one I only really got to do was the first one and I have long ago abandoned the dream of being a figure skater -- I don't think I have the skills or the body for that. :P However, reading Bittersweet had me living vicariously through Hudson, and I was in a very, very happy world in the next few days of reading the book.

But it's not a completely happy book. Hudson has been burned and she continues to be burned out in the things she's doing. She wants something big, to do something she loves, and I can definitely relate with what she's feeling. That being said, however, Hudson is not so jaded that she's just full of angst. She's a funny and reliable narrator, and I loved being in her head for the story. I loved her passion for both cupcakes and skating, and I really, really wanted the best for her as the story goes on. I also loved the other characters, particularly her past and present best friends Kara and Danielle and I completely adored her little brother Bug! The boys of the hockey team were also a very good addition, and I loved that particular angle in the story.

Bittersweet is also one of those books with the slow burn romance, and a love triangle that isn't so annoying. I really liked how balanced the attention was, and for a moment there I wasn't sure who Hudson would pick (but I was definitely campaigning for one number fifty-six). The love triangle also didn't mean enemies for the two guys concerned, which was also a huge relief because who needs guys beating each other up? I was also glad that she wasn't the kind of heroine who's also fixated with having sex on top of her other problems in the book. The book's ending reminded me a bit of a Disney movie, but I like Disney movies so I think the ending was just perfect. :)

On a final note, here's a warning when reading this book: don't read it hungry! Or, just make sure you have a couple of cupcakes on hand. I didn't, but the moment I finished this I went to the nearest cupcake store near my office and got myself some treats. This book also made me really, really crave a cupcake baking session -- I've never really made any fancy frosted cupcakes, but this book made me feel like maybe I could. And I should. Soon.

Like I said, I wasn't a big fan of Twenty Boy Summer, and I wasn't really interested in reading any other Ockler book after that. But now that I've read Bittersweet, I think I have changed my mind. Bittersweet is a cute, cute contemporary YA book, and I am definitely acquiring my own copy soon. :)

Last: writing this review had me craving for cupcakes again. Like these:

(all images from weheartit.com)

Nom nom.
Profile Image for Amirah I..
116 reviews31 followers
November 12, 2015
I was going to give this book no less than 4 stars..initially. The first half was good. I love how the story opened up with flashbacks of Avery's life "before" the incident- Before her family crumbles up. Before she screws her own life. And also before she lives in a shadow of regret of her own making.

It was sad when she talked about the shoulda-coulda-woulda, the path she could have taken, if given another chance. The disappointment and regret she's feeling kicked me hard in my gut because I can relate to her. And I did get teary-eyed at some points, to be honest.

The romance between her and Josh is pretty cute as well. Josh is simply the typical YA hero you would expect, really. But when the second boy comes out of nowhere, I just HAD to cross out one star. Love triangles aren't just my thingggg and especially when the girl goes on about Guy A at one minute, and switches to Guy B the other minute. I just. Can't.

One important fact I must say here is that our heroin, Avery; is the worst friend on planet earth. She ditched her friend Kara over a very ridiculous reason, if you ask me. And now she's doing the same thing with Dani, and still blames it on others. Ugh the nerve of her!! Another one star crossed out.

But no matter how much I hated the main character, I have to admit that I'm literally moved by this novel. Sarah Ockler deals with emotions very well that I just had to relent and add another one star for that matter. This book helps me see fragments of hopes through the pieces of my broken dreams. It helps me see the good in bad. Okay, I sound very poetic here hahhaa but yeah, truth be told.

"Maybe if you weren't so busy trying to bail on this 'hole', you'd remember that some people call it 'home', and that you don't have it all that bad. Maybe if you stopped trying so hard to escape, you'd see some of the good stuff, too."
Profile Image for Sarah.
820 reviews150 followers
January 5, 2012
Arg, Goodreads--way to eat my review that I just spent more time than I should have writing...

So, I'll try to reconstruct my thoughts more briefly. (My original review was awesome, though, haha.)

I have a feeling that Bittersweet will be one of those books that people read in very different ways. Some will read it as a "cute" book with a cupcake theme, some with grasp onto the sports themes or the small town story, while others will see it more as a divorce novel. It certainly took me by surprise--I loved Sarah Ockler's other books, but since most of the early reviews I'd read of this one had focused on the cupcake/bakery theme, I was expecting something less emotional--Bittersweet has a lot of depth and it really surprised me.

The following is a quick rundown of my lovefest for this book:

-It's quietly a sports novel--and handles the sports stuff so much better than most of the YA novels I've read that are marketed as sports stories.
-It encapsulates the feeling of growing up in a small town in which people feel stuck so very well. By the time kids in those towns (and I grew up in one just like Watonka, minus the snow) reach Hudson's age, there's a division between those that are leaving and those that are staying, and it's largely unspoken. This was brilliantly depicted in Bittersweet. For example:
For as long as I live in this crazy, lake-effect, chicken-wing-capital-of-the-world town, that old train howling up at the moon will always be the sound of someone leaving, the promise of another place."

-The secondary characters were fabulous. This is one of those things that makes Sarah Ockler stand out. In this novel, Dani (best friend), Will and Josh (two boys on the hockey team), Bug (little brother) and Hudson's mom all feel so real. None of them are caricatures and all have depth.
-The season and place are captured so well. I've never been to upstate New York, but the exurbs of Buffalo and the miserable winter came alive for me.
-The humor. So much wonderful, wry humor. Love it. For example:

W.W.H.D (What Would Hester Do)? I wonder. Then I totally laugh at myself, because Hester didn’t have it so hot, either, what with all the public scorn and sneaking around. Not to mention the fact that I’m seeking advice from a four-hundred-year-old fictional character about high school boys—never a good sign.

Attention, ladies and gentlemen, this is not a test. I repeat, this is not a test. This is a bona fide, break-the-glass cupcake emergency.

-Finally: There is a Friday Night Lights reference in this book!!!!!

I've loved all of Sarah Ockler's novels. Twenty Boy Summer made me cry and will likely be considered a YA classic at some point. Fixing Delilah warmed my heart. But Bittersweet impacted me on a personal level the most. I buy mostly ebooks, because I live in a very small house with limited space for bookshelves, but upon finishing Bittersweet, I immediately ordered myself a hard cover as well.

Highly recommended.

(Book #4 read in 2012.)

Actual review to come. Needless to say, I loved it. So much of it reminded me of the place (and people with whom) I grew up.
Profile Image for Roohdaar.
165 reviews1,779 followers
October 3, 2012
Oh, Lord. I am so severely disappointed with this book. I was so flipping excited for it! There were some pretty good/decent reviews and I was thinking: hmm this looks like a cool, fun, and girly book. Right? No. See, I didn't know this book would be that cliche. I knew it had some Sarah Dessenish aspects to it, with the lost girl, divorced parent, silly best friend stuff that we tend to read a lot about. However, the insta-love, man. How much more cliched could that get?

1. Girl and boy literally bump into each other
2. Girl faints
3. Guy holds her in his arms and tries to wake her up
4. She's all dazed and wondering what planet she's on
5. She thinks of his blue eyes and chocolate brown hair
6. He tries to do everything he can to make sure she's functioning properly
7. She thinks of kissing him and gets the idea that he stared at her lips or eyes for more than a second too long (Ohhhh, that totally means he wants to kiss you...)
8. Her heart skips a beat when he says something like, "I hope I see you again."

That single scene made me want to shut the book and give dirty looks to innocent inanimate objects. And I just had a thought. Why is it that some, if not, most young adult books have main characters that are shy, quiet, and thoughtful, but have best friends that are silly, quirky, and funny? Why can't it be the other way around for once?

The only thing remarkable about this book was the amazing, deliciously written descriptions of cupcakes in the beginning of each chapter. Every single one of them. Oh... they were so freaking good!

Mmmmmm... cupcakes...
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Profile Image for Laura.
559 reviews331 followers
June 12, 2015
Would 'sorry' have made any difference? Does it ever? It's just a word. One word against thousand actions.

This was one hell of a rollercoaster.

Parts of it were dragging on and on,but then other parts were really exciting. I loved most of the first half, but had my problems with the second. I don't even quite know what to say. This story really messed with my feelings. But I have to say that sadly during the second half, annoyance and frustration outweighed the good things. There was just so much drama and many fights and misunderstandings, and they all came back to Hudson. God, I felt like she was making one mistake after another and it pissed me off. I mean, no one's perfect obviously, but the things she did were so not necessary and dumb.
Then again, I really enjoyed other parts and I loved most of the characters. The whole hockey team is so much fun (especially Brad Nelson!) and Hudson's little brother and best friend are pretty awesome.
It basically went from me cheering or laughing to wanting to pull my hair out. So that was a little exhausting. But I really loved the topics the book dealt with and could relate to most of them.

I'm trapped in a giant snow globe, bound on the surface of the ice, nothing left to do but wait for someone to upturn and shake the world, set me back on my feet, and watch the sky fall.
Maybe I've always been waiting for that.

On a side note, I never really could figure Josh out. I don't know if it's a particularly bad or maybe good thing, but the guy mystified me. Still does a little.
Profile Image for Jessie  (Ageless Pages Reviews).
1,695 reviews874 followers
January 26, 2012
4 out of 5 stars!

I just. . . loved this. While the beginning had me seeing echoes of the start of the film Stick It , it's easy and impossible not to be won over by this cute baking/hockey teenaged love story. I had fun reading it, I wanted to read it when I wasn't, and I feel comfortable - nay excited! - recommending it to others. If those are not the signs of a good book, I don't know what are. This is exactly the kind of adorable, heart-felt book centered around baking that I wanted to read last year. What I got instead was Christina Mandelski's The Sweetest Thing , and, well, to be nice let's just say it far from delivered on the promise of its title. Sports, baking, school, family - main character Hudson Avery is a well-rounded, personable, real, dimensional character and one I enjoyed reading even for more than three hundred fifty pages. Author Sarah Ockler has greatly impressed me with this, the first novel of hers I've read, and with another of hers sitting to be read in my "already-bought" TBR pile I'm eager to start Twenty Boy Summer.

Let's get the bad stuff out of the way first, nice, easy, and best of all: quick. Why quick? I have very little to complain about from this book. There's so much to love from Bittersweet: from Hudson's rounded and faceted personality to Dani's take-no-crap attitude to the delicious-sounding cupcake recipes, I either missed things I ought've been annoyed by (possible) or they just never existed (most likely). First: I found it to be a tad lengthy. I enjoy a well-told and long story, but I felt Hudson's last twenty pages or so could've used some condensing. I flew through this book and only felt that the end suffered from a need for shortening: the rest is well-developed and timed. Second: Hudson's mom, Beth, expects too much from her daughter with little to no input from the daughter. I don't mind the "pull together for the family" spiel, it's understandable and actually happening all across the country, but I did mind Beth's attitude towards Hudson. Hudson is very mature and helpful: runs a side business, babysits her brother, pays some bills, goes to school, etc., but none of that factors into her mom's decision-making. It's aggravating, especially since the book is all from Hudson's perspective. The frustration of Hudson never being heard or listened to permeates for the duration, and it was one of the few things about this book I disliked. The good news is that it doesn't happen all the time, only sporadically, so it didn't really intrude on my reading enjoyment.

Hudson herself is great. She's so not perfect I want all the authors of Mary Sues to take note. Hudson is flawed human being: complicated, confused, FUNNY (when getting kissed: "I was 92% hygienically unprepared"), strong, and most of all, real. I really liked Hudson's humor: she doesn't take herself too serious and her self-deprecating style isn't so jaded as to be worrying. She's not the prettiest, or the most popular, or even the most intelligent: she's a normal, talented girl. Actualized and vibrant, Hudson is a happy harbinger for the personalities of the rest of the characters within Bittersweet. She has dreams and desires, hopes and wishes and a real-life she feels stuck in. Basically, Hudson is a typical teen: easy to relate to, easy to root for. Let me tell you, this girl is also funny. Her voice is so authentic and real, she comes across like several awkward friends of mine - I loved the freshness and authenticity consistently present. I thought the family drama behind Hudson's story was both compelling and also real. Contrasting her individual desires for freedom and escape against family duty, Hudson's struggles through the book are mundane but universal. Sarah Ockler truly did a noteworthy job with the characterization of the people within this book. The author absolutely and repeatedly nails the emotions and feelings of so many teens with Hudson's understandable reactions and thoughts.

Another thing about this I loved: the secondary and even tertiary characters are real, and believable, rounded personalities. Even the jerk of the novel is shown to have more than one side - and not all of them bad. He's human and understandable, even if I wanted him gone long before the book ended. Dani, Hudson's best friend, is a fireball but a real friend. She calls Hudson on her shit and isn't afraid to do her own thing without her BFF. I really enjoyed the realistic nature of the friendship between the two girls; the up and down trajectory is authentic and isn't just for plotting. Ms. Ockler also pulled off a feat in YA: there was a love triangle present, however slight. I for once, wasn't alienated by it. It helps the situation that both boys have their own appeal supposedly (Team Blackthorn FTW), and that Hudson's less undecided/wishywashy and more figuring things out without being obnoxious about the attention. On a side note, I did find "Bug's" intelligence/precociousness to be a leeetle far-fetched for an 8-year-old, but hey, minor quibbles.

For all its cute romance, great characters, teenage dating and cupcake confectionery fun, Bittersweet is not without depth or emotion. Some of the curveballs Hudson and her family have to deal with will resonate with readers: the hard economy, the desires vs. duty theme Hudson explores, the broken family so common and still so problematic. Hudson's identification with Hester Prynne of Nathaniel Hawthrone's The Scarlet Letter is a nice reminder of how Hudson - and a lot of teens - feel isolated, and alone within a group they should belong. Hudson is a special case because she is shunned by a select group - serious ice skaters - but that feeling of aloneness, of not being listened to (coughBethcough) is one a lot of teens will accept without thought.

Bittersweet is not just sweet and fun to read, it's completely evocative in tone. It's set in upper New York and Hudson is an outdoors kind of person. This is a novel that makes snow sound fun, exciting, new, full of possibilities and this is not actually true. I may live out west in Arizona, but I know snow. I live in Flagstaff, which in 2010 was the city with the most snowfall in the entire contiguous United States. At one time, we had more than Anchorage, Alaska. So yeah, I know snow and I love it for the first month it's here. Sarah Ockler, however, with her magnificent setting and through her lovely descriptive writing, has me craving a blizzard out here in Arizona. Right now. I wish there'd been one while I was reading this. This is the perfect read for a snowy day, and a cup of tea in front of the fireplace. With a cupcake, of course. So nicely done on the timing front - I say buy this one ASAP while it's still cold outside.

Bottom line: Look no further if you want a book with cute but not saccharine romance, angst without melodrama, and a cast of varied and interesting characters. It's cute without beating the reader over the head with its own adorability. And Josh is hot.
Profile Image for Tori.
289 reviews8 followers
March 15, 2018
GUYS. This book is SO GOOD. I can tell you precisely, down to the page number, when I decided this book was getting 5 stars.

After Hudson has her first in-school encounter with ice hockey co-captain Josh Blackthorn, in which they connect over similar tastes in music and she agrees to help him with his skating (a cute scene alone) page 82: "Overly Analytical Mind, engaged" where Hudson begins to dissect every minute action and word in her most recent Josh interaction, you know, as we do. It was so relatable, and was the beginning of a multitude of incredibly funny one-liners and paragraphs.

Ockler is such a fun, witty writer! I just want to take passages from this book and post them all over my apartment as a pick-me-up for those days when I really need a laugh. And I am IN LOVE with Hudson's spunk.

Amid her humor, Ockler also tackles hard issues around family, specifically divorce. Hudson gets pulled in multiple directions both by commitments to her younger brother and mother and her friends (Dani, the wolf pack, Josh, and Will). This book examines the ways in which we try to juggle everything in a desperate attempt to make ALL the things work, and the fall out when we (oftentimes) fall short. And explores the ways in which what we think we want might not actually be what we need.
Profile Image for Lisa.
679 reviews5 followers
March 1, 2012
It takes forty muscles to frown, and only twelve to jam a cupcake in your mouth and get over it.

3 and a half stars

This book is perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen. So far, I've read Bittersweet and Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler and I find the themes/writing style is quite similar to Sarah Dessen.

I liked this but I didn't connect with it enough to feel much more than mild like. The premise sounded so promising. I've always loved watching figure skating and I adore cupcakes possibly more than anything. Alas, I was kind of disappointed with this book.

My main gripe was that it felt too long and generally dragged out. I don't care if a book is 400 pages long, as long as it pulls me in and makes me feel something. I didn't feel much except exasperation that the plot wasn't moving forward quicker.

I mostly found the first half to be dull. The second half was slightly better, but that might've been because I knew the book was getting to the end. That's never a good thing, when you are awaiting the end.

I think I'm in the minority here, as most reviews I've read have been four and five star reviews, full of gushing. I can't gush but I'll point out the good things.

I loved the way each chapter was named after a cupcake the main character, Hudson, had created, with the cupcake being described(these cupcakes all sounded amazing). None of the characters really affected me in any way but I can see that there would be people who would probably relate to Hudson. The romance had some sweet parts(but there wasn't enough development or sexual tension for my liking).

I was annoyed by Hudson sneaking around to go skating. I found the hockey plot-line kind of boring and I thought Will was so bland that I didn't even see the point of his existence! I don't think a love triangle should be in every Y.A book but I don't mind if you at least make it a believable love triangle(such as the magic Stephanie Perkins weaves or the one in The Sky Is Everywhere.)

I was annoyed by how selfish Hudson's mother seemed. She didn't seem to care at all what Hudson wanted in life. I know if I'd grown up skating and stopped because my parents got divorced, my mother would've encouraged me to start skating again. I thought it was pretty crappy of the mother to get her daughter to work in her diner for free and expect her daughter to be available whenever she wanted. Her mother seemed to think her daughter never had plans important enough, that they couldn't be cancelled. I know that was supposed to be one of the main plot points but I just found it annoying. I think I'm a little sick of Y.A books that use parent drama as a main plot point, trying to show the main character as having sooo much on their shoulders. Sometimes it seems the formula for a Y.A book is: family drama + love triagle + insecure and/or misunderstood main character. I didn't see anything fresh in this.

I will say this was the first book I've read using PulseIt and that might've affected my judgement slightly. The reader on PulseIt kept freezing on me and it was taking me forever to read the book. I think my enjoyment of the book might've increased if I'd been reading an actual book but I don't think my opinion would've changed much.

I would recommend this to anyone who loves contemporary Y.A or Sarah Dessen(as they're similar writers). I personally didn't love it but that's just me. I did like it but I might've liked it more if it had been shorter. I like things too the point. That doesn't mean I hate long books. It just means I like my writing to have a purpose at all times. I hate filler.

But yeah. Cupcakes, romance, family drama, figure skating, hockey, friendship drama. If a few of those things interest you, you'll probably like/love this book. When it comes down to it, it's a fluffy, cute book and would be perfect for someone looking for a simple comfort read.

No matter what happens next, I'm not letting this turn into another two weeks of silence, the entire history of us summed up in a series of near misses and almosts just because neither of us had the snowballs to say anything.

Profile Image for Eunice.
255 reviews527 followers
February 1, 2012
This book is such a cute, sweet and fluffy read. I had a so much fun reading this. I laughed and drooled a lot in this book (oh, just imagine those cupcakes, yum!). The characters are adorable and brilliant, especially Hudson. That girl is just really funny and hilarious. This is my first Sarah Ockler book and I loved her writing style, and those cupcake descriptions are just soo yummy it left me totally craving.

After reading the prologue I thought this was a serious, dramatic type of book. But no, it was not. Because it was actually the opposite. Hudson was a talented, brilliant and funny girl. And despite the regrets she had because of her past decisions she wasn't actually overly dramatic, in fact she was really hilarious. She was highly infectious, you know. When she was telling her regrets or how sad she was you would feel what she was feeling. And when she's happy and being all flustered by a boy you'll go all swooning and laughing at her thoughts. I was really amused by her inner fantasies about Josh, you don't know how much I laughed at that. She sometimes could be frustrating especially with her decisions but her adorkableness was enough for me to overlook those. I loved that by the end of the book she finally let go of her regrets and finally realized what she really wanted of her life.

I loved those times when she started training the hockey team. It was amazing and really entertaining. At first the boys were quite rude at her (except with Josh and Will) but as soon as Hudson showed them what she got they started trusting and believing her. I loved how her relationships with the boys developed. They happily welcomed her to the group and when they started winning and they never forget to acknowledge her and give her the credit.

Josh and Will. *coughs* You know how I avoid love triangles but thank goodness, the conflict between Josh, Hudson and Will wasn't very much frustrating. I liked both boys but of course there will always be someone I'll be siding more, which in here was Josh. Josh was genuinely a nice guy. He obviously likes Hudson from the start but can't seem to make the first move. Every time Hudson and Josh were together, I was always like "Kiss now! Kiss now! Lol. That part in the Niagara Falls, I almost believed that they won't end up together. Will, on the other hand was also great guy and I think he genuinely likes Hudson too. I loved that how he knew who Hudson really like and how he let her go and was even the one to tell her that "she should tell him [Josh]".

Dani, Hudson's best friend was also one of my favorite characters. She's very supportive of Hudson and I loved that she was able to call Hudson out of her behaviour. And Bug too, her relationship with her sister was something. It was so cute and sweet and they care so much for each other. This kid was so brilliant I almost wanted to kidnap him (if that's even possible).

Overall Bittersweet was a read full of funny, swoony, and heartwarming moments. This is a really wonderful read. I recommend this. And if you haven't read this, just a little warning, get ready to drool over the boys the cupcakes! They're so awesome I can almost taste them! LoL. >:DDD

This review is also posted at Book Overdose
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