Dec 31, 2012

Review: Opal by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Title: Opal
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Publication Date: 12.11.2012
Pages: 382
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Yes (Lux #3)
Source: Purchased finished copy

Rating: A+

Summary (from Goodreads):
No one is like Daemon Black.

When he set out to prove his feelings for me, he wasn’t fooling around. Doubting him isn’t something I’ll do again, and now that we’ve made it through the rough patches, well... There’s a lot of spontaneous combustion going on.

But even he can’t protect his family from the danger of trying to free those they love.

After everything, I’m no longer the same Katy. I’m different... And I’m not sure what that will mean in the end. When each step we take in discovering the truth puts us in the path of the secret organization responsible for torturing and testing hybrids, the more I realize there is no end to what I’m capable of. The death of someone close still lingers, help comes from the most unlikely source, and friends will become the deadliest of enemies, but we won’t turn back. Even if the outcome will shatter our worlds forever.

Together we’re stronger... and they know it.

It is no secret that I am a huge Jennifer Armentrout fan. Since reading her debut novel a few years (!) ago, I have avidly and anxiously read everything else she has penned, but the Lux series is by far my favorite. Opal is the third in this fantastical series, and while it seems like a lot of series have a multitude of high and low points, the Lux series just keeps steadily climbing. Each book ratchets up the intensity levels, the romance (sweet baby Moses, the romance), and the overall fun factor.

Katy and Daemon are phenomenal as a couple and as individuals, but I really feel like Opal is where their relationship is cemented. It’s where the most growth occurs. While the two are as adorably snarky as ever, there is a new level of maturity achieved here. They listen to one another and you can see the bond they share becoming firmer and stronger with each chapter.

The supporting cast really feels like it’s being fleshed out, too. I loved the interactions between the rest of the Luxen—from Ash and Dee’s growing friendship, to Andrew becoming a more prominent and vocal member, and Dawson … Watching Dawson come back around and start living again was wonderful. With each addition to the series I feel like these characters dig a little further into my heart.

Except Blake. He needs to go.

Sometimes writing raving reviews is so hard. I feel like there are only so many times I can say “fantastic” or “awesome” in a review, and those words are so weak to convey the wealth of emotion I feel when I read a seriously great novel. But that is exactly how Opal makes me feel—this jittery warmth that both relaxes me and keeps me on edge. I love sinking into the Lux world and I can’t wait to return.

Review: Salvation by Anne Osterlund

Title: Salvation
Author: Anne Osterlund
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers
Publication Date: 1.10.2013
Pages: 288
Genre: Contemporary
Series: No
Source: ARC from author

Rating: B+

Summary (from Goodreads):
Salvador Resendez--Salva to his friends--appears to have it all. His Mexican immigrant family has high expectations, and Salva intends to fulfill them. He's student body president, quarterback of the football team, and has a near-perfect GPA. Everyone loves him.

Especially Beth Courant, AKA the walking disaster area. Dreamy and shy, Beth is used to blending into the background. But she's also smart, and she has serious plans for her future.

Popular guy and bookish girl--the two have almost nothing in common. Until fate throws them together and the attraction is irresistible. Soon Beth is pushing Salva to set his sights higher than ever--because she knows he has more to offer, more than even he realizes.

Then tragedy strikes--and threatens to destroy everything that Salva has worked for. Will Beth's love be enough to save him?

I have been so excited about reading Salvation by Anne Osterlund for months! I was so thankful to have gotten this copy to review. I’m a sucker for unlikely romances, and this novel fit the bill nicely.

Honestly, I had somewhat of a hard time connecting with the characters. Maybe too much happened in a short amount of time. It also seemed like there were chunks of time missing in the story—it skipped ahead frequently by a couple of weeks or months. I really feel like if more had been fleshed out by another hundred pages or so to show what happened during that time, I would have been able to get a better handle on Salva and Beth and their romance.

I did enjoy Beth, though, and her love of literature is something I think we can all identify with. I also was proud of the way she pushed Salva not to settle for anything less than the best. Yes, this girl was a disorganized mess (much like me in high school), but she was passionate about her beliefs and was a loyal friend.

I also loved the emphasis of Salva’s heritage that Osterlund infused into the story. The snippets of Spanish (and Spanglish) made me smile. Maybe because I have a fairly good handle on the language, but I love reading it in novels. Also the family dynamic in the Resendez family fascinated me—seeing how Salva’s dad pushed their children to be educated and the emphasis he put on that to the devoutly Catholic mindset not just in the Resendez clan, but in their community was enlightening.

Salvation is a fast, sweet read. I finished it in a few hours on a lazy Sunday morning. It’s definitely worth reading and checking out!

End of the Year Book Survey: 2012 Edition

best books read in 2012Hosted by Jamie at The Perpetual Page Turner, this is a silly little survey she created to highlight what I read and did in 2012 on the blog.

Best In Books 2012

1. Best Book You Read In 2012? (You can break it down by genre if you want)
I'm going to stick the young adult genre, but break it down a bit:

Historical: Venom by Fiona Paul

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson was my biggest let down in 2012. I was so set to love this book, and I knew by the time I was 1/3 I disliked it. I’m a huge Peter Pan fan, so it kind broke my heart I didn’t love this book.

 3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2012? 
Huntley Fitzpatrick’s My Life Next Door. It blew me away with how genuine and heartfelt it was.

 4. Book you recommended to people most in 2012?
Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout. This was one of those books I was raving about online and in my personal life. I considered buying a second copy because I worried mine would get messed up from being passed around so much.

 5. Best series you discovered in 2012?
The Maximum Ride series by James Patterson. I had never read them before this year when a publisher approached me about reviewing them (which I still need to do—crap!). I was surprised by how much I enjoyed them.

 6. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2012?
Huntley Fitzpatrick, Katie McGarry, Morgan Rhodes, Kasie West, and  Julie Kagawa (I never read the Iron Fey series, so my first Kagawa novel was The Immortal Rules).

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?
Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes pushed me a bit. I had never been big into fantasy because, to be honest, it overwhelmed me. Rhodes created a story I reveled in.

 8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2012?
Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock. I was shocked when I started reading this book and finished it four hours later. I skipped dinner for this book.

 9. Book You Read In 2012 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year:
Spellbound and Spellcaster by Cara Lynn Shultz. I love, love, love these books.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2012?
Defiance by C.J. Redwine

11. Most memorable character in 2012? 
Rachel in Defiance.

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2012?
Speechless by Hannah Harrington slayed me in the best way possible.

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2012? 
Want to Go Private? by Sarah Darer Littman. The book deals with a girl who gets lured in by an internet predator and goes missing. Very powerful and very relevant.

 14. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!
The end of Everneath by Brodi Ashton. I was freaking out. That, and the end of Aimee Carter’s Goddess Interrupted. Both are cliffhanger endings that had me screaming.

15. Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2012 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).
Tie between Daemon and Katy in the Lux series and Brendan and Emma in the Spellbound series.

16. Favorite Book You Read in 2012 From An Author You Read Previously
Spellcaster by Cara Lynn Shultz (sequel to 2011’s Spellbound)

17. Best Book You Read That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else:
Valkyrie Rising by Ingrid Paulson. Jenny @ Supernatural Snark RAVED about it, so I had to try it. So glad I did. I love that book!

 Book Blogging/Reading Life in 2012

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2012? 

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2012? 
Um … I don’t think I have one. I the one I debated the most over posting was my review of Poison Princess by Kresley Cole since I didn’t finish the book.

3. Best discussion you had on your blog?
Probably the BEA one last month … I’m excited, and so I love that other people are excited.

4. Most thought-provoking review or discussion you read on somebody else’s blog?
I think there were a lot of discussions that swept across the blogs like wildfire:
                -BEA Debacle of 2012

5. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?
Definitely BookExpo America 2012. It was so amazing. I met a few people I had only known via the internet, met a ton of authors, got some amazing books and swag, and decided I would going back in 2013.

6. Best moment of book blogging in 2012?
Attending BEA and getting to meet everyone! I can’t wait to go back in 2013. I think this time I’ll be more relaxed and able to enjoy things a lot more.
Baltimore Book Festival

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?
Not counting blog tours and giveaways, the most viewed post was the Baltimore Book Festival Recap. Wow. Really? Huh.

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?
I started a new thing this month called Bananas for Books—a monthly spotlight on books coming out the following month I want. Despite its lack of love, I enjoyed it and think I’ll keep it up.

9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?
I kinda of hosted a mini Hurricane Sandy challenge, but we lost power and then there was the clean up and real life and I never followed up on it. Whoops.

Looking Ahead…

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2012 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2013?
Alice In Zombieland by Gena Showalter

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2013?
Ugh, if I can only pick one … Rebel Spring by Morgan Rhodes. Now that I got a taste of this world in Falling Kingdoms, I am DYING for more.

3. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2013?
Keep better track of my reviews. I got waaaaaaaay behind on them and am still playing catch up. I read like 20 books and never reviewed them this summer.

Dec 29, 2012

Stacking the Shelves #7

Stacking The Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews. This a new way to showcase all the books currently weighing down my shelves. 

Woohoo! Last one of the year and it includes a lot of Christmas books and review copies and a vlog!

For Review:

Flowers in the Sky by Lynn Joseph
Mila 2.0 by Debra Driza
Impostor by Jill Hathaway
Spellcaster by Claudia Gray
Crash and Burn by Michael Hassan
Uses For Boys by Erica Lorraine Scheidt


Stork by Wendy Delsol
Frost by Wendy Delsol
Hallowed by Cynthia Hand
Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes
Mystic City by Theo Lawrence
Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter
Hidden by Sophie Jordan
Once by Ana Carey
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

**Many thanks to HarperCollins, HarperTeen, and St. Martin's Griffin for the review copies.**

Leave me a link in your comments so I can swing by your blog and see what you got this week, too!

Dec 27, 2012

Review: Venom by Fiona Paul

Title: Venom
Author: Fiona Paul
Publisher: Philomel
Publication Date: 10.30.2012
Pages: 432
Genre: Paranormal, Historical
Series: Yes (Secrets of the Eternal Rose #1)
Source: ARC from BEA

Rating: B+

Summary (from Goodreads):
Cassandra Caravello is one of Renaissance Venice’s lucky elite: with elegant gowns, sparkling jewels, her own lady’s maid, and a wealthy fiancĂ©, she has everything a girl could desire. Yet ever since her parents’ death, Cassandra has felt trapped, alone in a city of water, where the dark and labyrinthine canals whisper of escape.

When Cass stumbles upon a murdered woman—practically in her own backyard—she’s drawn into a dangerous world of courtesans, killers, and secret societies. Soon, she finds herself falling for Falco, a mysterious artist with a mischievous grin... and a spectacular skill for trouble. Can Cassandra find the murderer, before he finds her? And will she stay true to her fiancĂ©, or succumb to her uncontrollable feelings for Falco?

Delicious, decadent, and alluring, Venom is a thrilling, sweeping novel that takes you deep into the heart of Venice. Fiona Paul’s debut is a pulse-pounding success with mysterious characters and settings that entice and enthrall.

Cass is a complex character. She has the spirit of a twenty-first century girl while living in the constraints of the Renaissance time. Her role was defined by her station, her arranged marriage, and her family. I loved that Cass didn’t simply rebel against her title and the life that had predetermined for her. Yes, she disliked it and went against the social norms, but she also felt fear and guilt when she did it. She second guessed herself frequently, and that helped ground her character to me.

Falco was a bit more of a hard sell for me. There was something about him I could never fully trust and therefore never really accept. That made his romance with Cass a little hard to take. Falco seemed a little too slick and confidant, and while I understand the need for secrecy now, I couldn’t help but feel a little put off by him.

It took me a bit longer to read Venom than I would have liked, but I likened it to eating a triple-layer, death-by-chocolate cake. It’s too rich to down in one sitting. I had to let things digest and settle before going back for more. Paul does a spectacular job setting the scene and making me feel like I was walking along the roads of Venice from the smells to the feel of the cobblestone beneath my feet. Reading Venom is an experience, not just a ride. I can’t wait to see where Paul takes this story next.

Dec 25, 2012

Review: Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

Title: Falling Kingdoms
Author: Morgan Rhodes
Publisher:  Razorbill
Publication Date: 12.11.2012
Pages: 412
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Yes (Falling Kingdoms #1)
Source: ARC from BEA

Rating: A

Summary (from Goodreads):
In a land where magic has been forgotten but peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest is simmering. Three kingdoms grapple for power--brutally transforming their subjects' lives in the process. Amidst betrayals, bargains, and battles, four young people find their fates forever intertwined:

Cleo: A princess raised in luxury must embark on a rough and treacherous journey into enemy territory in search of a magic long thought extinct.

Jonas: Enraged at injustice, a rebel lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country impoverished--and finds himself the leader of a people's revolution centuries in the making.

Lucia: A girl adopted at birth into a royal family discovers the truth about her past--and the supernatural legacy she is destined to wield.

Magnus: Bred for aggression and trained to conquer, a firstborn son begins to realize that the heart can be more lethal than the sword...

The only outcome that's certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed?

I felt like I had to mentally prepare myself before delving into the epic fantasy that is Falling Kingdoms. As you can clearly tell from the blurb, there are a lot of characters, each with their own agenda that at times intersect. I knew this wasn’t a book I could sit down and finish in an afternoon; I knew I would have to think when I read this. Falling Kingdoms isn’t a spectator book—you cannot sit idly by and enjoy the scenery. Morgan Rhodes crafts such an intricate tale that you must be prepared to fully surrender yourself to her world.

And I feel so much richer for doing just that.

This book is so grand and large, I’m sort of at a loss for where to start. Let’s begin with the writing:

Rhodes is a genius. Her world building skill are phenomenal. She created not only a fantasy world, full of magic and folklore, but also her own countries. She created back stories and histories for these countries, but never once did I feel like I was being preached at. She has perfected the art of revealing through storytelling. Her settings are lush and rich, making me feel like I was walking through the barren lands of Limeros or the meadows of Auranos.

But the characters are what drive this story. These complicated, emotional, and brilliant characters that bring the story to life. Usually when given several prominent characters who each get a turn telling “their” story by alternating chapters (but not alternating POV’s—this one is solely third person, thank God), I find myself attached more to one character than the others, so I will occasionally skip ahead to get to the parts I care about. Not true at all with this story. I loved Cleo’s spirit, Jonas’s determination, Lucia’s innocence, and Magnus’s brooding equally.

I’m not a girl who goes out of her way to read fantasy. I tried reading Game of Thrones when the show came out and found myself hopelessly lost by the third chapter. Same with Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind (again, loved the tv show Legend of the Seeker), but once more found myself confused and overwhelmed. But there is something magical about Falling Kingdoms that sucked me in. I could have spent another month immersed in this world and not tire of it.

If you’re a fan of fantasy, even in the smallest measure, this is your book. If you’re like me—somewhat intimidated by fantasy and the sweeping magnitude of it, this is also your book. Falling Kingdoms is a book that I can easily see wowing a variety of audiences and readers for years to come.

Dec 21, 2012

Blogger to Author: How to Query Your Book

Blogger to Author

As a blogger, nothing makes me more flattered than when someone takes the time to reach out to me to review a book they worked on.

As a blogger, nothing makes me more frustrated than when someone expects me to review a book they worked on.

Let me start off with why I’m making this post. Over the last few weeks, I have been inundated with review requests. And I’m not saying that to brag—quite the contrary. I'm just finding myself a bit overwhelmed and, frankly, somewhat insulted as it's obvious that the authors making the review requests really don't have the slightest idea what my blog is about. People are asking me to review books totally outside of the genre I read, other people telling me their book is the next big thing so I HAVE to read it, and authors asking me to review books that make me blush as soon as I see the cover. That’s just the start of it!

Here’s a few tips for people looking for someone to review a title they are working on (be it an author, agent, publicist, publisher, etc.):

1. Know thy blogger:
                I understand that you are a very busy person, and sending out queries is long, tiring work, but avoid generic emails. I cannot stress this enough. Bloggers put a lot of work into their blog. If you want your query to be taken seriously, take the time to get the blogger’s name you’re emailing. Don’t address it, “Dear Blogger/Reviewer/Important Person/Person Lucky Enough to Get This Request.” And while I’m at it? Take the time to learn how to spell their name—even if you copy and paste it from the website.

2. Know your target demographic:
                If you have written a sweeping, steamy, romantic story about people who like to be tied up, down, and around for fun it probably isn’t the best idea to ask someone who reviews children’s novels to give your title a go.
                ‘Blogger’ is not a one-size-fits-all category. Some bloggers will review a myriad of genres, others only a specific type. Personally, I only review young adult (YA) with the occasional middle grade (MG). When someone asks me to review a non-fiction title about how Lincoln reunited the union while wearing a large hat, I’m not going to say yes. It’s clearly posted in my info section what types of reviews I will read. Which brings me to—

3. Use the “ABOUT ME/INFO” section:
                A lot of blogs have an informative section about the blogger. A short missive that says our likes and dislikes, types of books we enjoy, and a bunch of other helpful tidbits that would help you figure out if your book is a good fit for this reviewer. Some of us even say if we are currently accepting review copies.
                For example, my blog currently says I am not accepting titles for review, with the exception of authors, publicists, agents, and publishers I have previously worked with. The why is a blogger’s own personal reason which they may or may not choose to disclose. This is not an invitation to pitch your book even harder.
4. No one likes a spammer:
                Offering your novel for review is not a case of “if first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” If we decline, don’t send us another query a few weeks later. There is no reason to keep sending emails … especially if they are totally identical to the first one you sent.

5. Give some options:
                As previously stated, I simply don’t have the time to take on additional titles of review right now. However, that doesn’t mean I won’t help promote your book. I have no problem putting up a guest post or a trailer that someone provides me. Want to offer a giveaway? I’m happy to host it for you.
                Bloggers love books and authors. We want your novel to succeed. Just because I don’t have 5 hours to devote to reading your book and writing a review doesn’t mean I don’t have 5 minutes to upload a guest post.

6. For the bloggers:
                If someone offers you a query, don’t be rude. And I don’t mean, firing back an email that says, “Can’t you read? I only review (insert genre) books.” or “I don’t want to read your book. It doesn’t sounds very good.”
                Someone took the time to reach out to you and offer up their heart. That’s what a book is—a piece of a writer’s very soul. Don’t tarnish that because you’re in a bad mood or irritated. A simple, one-line email declining the title is sufficient. Be as polite as you would want someone to be to you.

The idea of this post truly was not to offend anybody. It was simply something I thought might be helpful after talking to a few other bloggers who seemed to be having the same issues I am. If I upset you or offended you, I apologize profusely. The idea was to help, not hurt.

Dec 20, 2012

MidWinter's Eve Giveaway Hop

This giveaway hop is hosted by the amazing Kathy @ I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and Oasis for YAIt will run from December 21-27, 2012. I'll choose the winner on Dec. 28, 2012.

This one is INTERNATIONAL! So best of luck and start thinking of which book you'd like to get! 

The Prize:

You can win any book of your choice, up to $15 USD from:

if you live in the US,

if you live outside the US! That means this giveaway is international as long as The Book Depository ships free to you. Not sure? Check this list HERE.

The Rules:

Must be a public GFC follower - I will be checking! 

*Bonus entries:

+2 - Follow me on TWITTER
+2 - Like The Irish Banana Review on FACEBOOK
+5 - Reply to any of my reviews

I will contact the winner via email and they will have 48 hours to reply to my email before another winner is chosen! Winner must be over 13.

That's all you need! Oh, and fill out the form (sorry, Rafflecopter was giving me a fit):

Keep on hopping:

Review: Nobody But Us by Kristin Halbrook

Title: Nobody But Us
Author: Kristin Halbrook
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: 1.29.2013
Pages: 272
Genre: Contemporary
Series: No
Source: eARC from publisher

Rating: A+

Summary (from Goodreads):
Bonnie and Clyde meets IF I STAY in this addictively heart-wrenching story of two desperate teenagers on the run from their pasts.

They’re young. They’re in love. They’re on the run.

Zoe wants to save Will as much as Will wants to save Zoe. When Will turns eighteen, they decide to run away together. But they never expected their escape to be so fraught with danger....

When the whole world is after you, sometimes it seems like you can’t run fast enough.

Nobody But Us, told in alternating perspectives from Will and Zoe, is an unflinching novel, in turns heartbreaking and hopeful, about survival, choices, and love...and how having love doesn’t always mean that you get a happy ending.

It’s always hard starting a book that you know will smash your heart, and that’s exactly what happened when I started reading Nobody But Us by Kristin Halbrook. It’s one of those books that you just know can’t end well, but it’s written in such a clear, poetic way, that you can’t stop reading for anything.

Will and Zoe are broken people. There’s just no other word for it. Will has been failed by nearly every adult in his life. He’s been bounced from home to home, a product of just how all-too-frequently our society fails older kids in the foster system. He is volatile and unpredictable, but he has this love of Zoe that is overwhelming. The sheer sensitivity of Will astounded me, especially when it came to Zoe.

Zoe, who has been beaten down and abused for most of her life by her only living parent. I desperately wanted Zoe away from her dad—possibly as badly as Will did. The man was a monster, and I cheered when they ran away together … Until I realized Zoe is 15 and Will is 18 and their being together is a crime. But that is just the first in a long series of decisions and obstacles that threatened to undo them.

This book really raises the question: Can you love someone too much? Will and Zoe clung to each other and understood one another in a way few people ever do, but it was to the point of destruction. There were so many points in the journey where things could have gone a little different and ended beautifully, but bad luck and desperation-fueled choices put them on a collision course with reality.

I finished reading Nobody But Us yesterday on the bus coming home from NYC with friends. I still had another 2 hours to kill before we got home, but I couldn’t bring myself to start a new book. This book haunted me much more than I ever imagined. No, I did not get the ending I so desperately wanted, but I think that’s the point. This book made me think and feel long after I stopped reading. I selfishly wanted to hurl this book (well, metaphorically speaking as it was on my Nook and I didn’t feel like going through the financial hassle of replacing that) and pout that I didn’t get my fairy tale ending.

But this isn’t that book.

If you want a happily ever after, then sadly you probably will not enjoy this. However, I think you do yourself a huge disservice by not reading Nobody But Us. Holbrook created this masterpiece of a novel that left me wondering and troubled long after it was over. And really, can you ask for anything more spectacular in a novel?

Guest Post: Jade from The Real Mermaids

Real Mermaids Festive Treats

Hi everyone! Jade here from Real Mermaids.

One of my favourite things about the upcoming holidays is the great treats we get to make and share. I love food so much, in fact, that I included a recipe for some of my favourite snacks in each of the Real Mermaids books.

My friend Cori and I thought we’d experiment a bit and ‘holiday-ize’ each recipe for you!

In Real Mermaids Don’t Hold Their Breath, Cori and I were totally desperate for a sleepover snack so Cori whipped up a batch of chocolate covered popcorn with some popcorn kernels, chocolate chips, a brown paper bag and a microwave. I’m not kidding—that girl’s a genius! We added some candy cane sprinkles here to give it that festive touch.

Chocolate Popcorn with Candy Cane Sprinkles

- brown paper lunch bag
- stapler
- measuring cup
- microwave

- 1/3 cup popcorn kernels
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 3 tbsp chocolate chips
- 3 tbsp butter or margarine
- pinch of salt

- 3 candy canes, crushed

Pour the popcorn kernels into a brown paper lunch bag then fold the top of the bag ¼ of an inch, twice. Secure with two staples (trust me, Cori Googled it!) at the folded part to seal the bag shut. Put the bag flat in the microwave and cook on HIGH for about two minutes. Each microwave is different, though, so you may need to adjust the time.

Meanwhile, add the brown sugar, chocolate chips, butter/margarine and salt to a microwave-safe measuring cup. Cook on HIGH for about 15 seconds or until the gooey buttery-chocolaty mixture is melted. Mix well with a fork then pour it over the popcorn.

Toss like a salad, add the candy cane sprinkles on top and munch away!

Happy treats and have a great holiday, everyone!