dares & cupcakes

Yesterday was the release of Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares, brought to you by the spectacular team of David Levithan and Rachel Cohn!

Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Can you believe this cover? It totally wins the Cutest Cover Ever award. I really need to get that cover art for my wall.

Their release day reading was at the Strand, which also plays a big role in the book. That was very meta of them. In case you’ve never been to the Strand, it’s essential that you visit next time you’re in New York. It’s the world’s largest used bookstore. They also sell new releases at a discount. When I first moved here, I’d swelter in the Strand searching for books all summer. They had no air conditioning, haphazard self arrangements, and stacks of books for days. It was like a treasure hunt! They’ve recently renovated the whole store and added air conditioning, which just makes it even more of a fun adventure.

Dash and Lily are all about adventure.

David Levithan and Rachel Cohn

One day in the Strand, Dash finds a red Moleskine notebook. It has clues. Dash decides to follow the clues, rather like the treasure hunt that is inherently the Strand! Mega meta again. It turns out that the notebook was left there by Lily…sort of. You’ll have to read the book to find out. I haven’t started it yet, but if it’s anything like their reading then watch out! We’re in for a wildly entertaining ride.

That’s the thing about hearing David and Rachel read. They are so freaking hilarious/brilliant/sparkly that all you can do is sit there and marvel at them, agog. I’m sure the Strand was beyond impressed. That was their first teen book event and it was amazing!

David Levithan and Rachel Cohn signing Dash and Lily's Book of Dares

The Strand is a big deal here in New York. So are cupcakes. And since Rachel wrote a book called Cupcake, this seems like the perfect time to address a cupcake dispute that has flared up on Sarah Dessen’s blog.

Okay, not really. It’s just that Sarah said how I love Crumbs and she tried to go while she was here but they were closed. And then some people commented and they were like (paraphrasing here), “Forget Crumbs! Magnolia rules!” Or wherever else. There are approximately one grillion cupcake places in New York – the possibilities are essentially endless. The thing is, Crumbs is so delicious that I felt the need to defend their honor and throw down a retaliation entry in which I break down the main differences among the top three cupcake contenders: Crumbs, Magnolia, and Sprinkles.

I know Sprinkles is in L.A. But they’re opening a store here in February!

That could be dangerous.

Here’s the thing. Crumbs is my fave, but Sprinkles takes the cupcake to a whole other level. Their cake is moist, dense, and delicious. Their frosting is ethereal. Their flavors and tastes are so nuanced that eating a Sprinkles cupcake is pretty much a religious experience.

Of course, we all have opinions. My friend Courtney Sheinmel does not share mine (although we do agree about Crumbs). She believes Sprinkles to be lacking. I dug deeper and found out that she only had them one time. She must have gotten a bad one. Because dude! When I was in L.A. for my book tour in May, I scored two Sprinkles cupcakes and couldn’t even eat them that day. They sat in my hotel room overnight in their box (not even wrapped in anything) and they were still unbelievably moist the next day.

And then there’s Magnolia. They were my fave when I first moved to the West Village. That was before I started watching Sex and the City, but my friend Mike said how Carrie and Miranda were sitting outside Magnolia (on a bench that isn’t really there, btw) eating vanilla cupcakes with pink icing. I love pink icing! So of course all I could think about was having a vanilla cupcake with pink icing at Magnolia. I had a Magnolia obsession there for a while. Their pastel icings. Their vintage sprinkles. I even wrote two whole scenes in Take Me There with Magnolia.

Then I discovered Crumbs. I didn’t even discover Crumbs at Crumbs. I was at this awesome dessert place called Cafe Lalo on the Upper West and they had Crumbs cupcakes. That was my first time trying one and I’ve been hooked ever since. See, Magnolia uses a confectioner’s-sugar based frosting (in two flavors). Crumbs has buttercream frostings (in many delicious flavors). Buttercream frosting is my friend. Also, Crumbs has way more cake flavors. Just look at their Halloween assortment!

Halloween cupcakes at Crumbs

Oh, and who walked by Crumbs when Courtney and I were sitting in the window after the reading? Rachel Cohn! A sweet non-coincidence indeed.