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Mini-reviews: The Astonishing Color of After + Sky in the Deep

pub 3/20/18 by Little Brown Books
for Young Readers
Young Adult - Magical Realism
Received from pub via Netgalley
In the aftermath of her mother's suicide, Leigh Chen Sanders is certain her mother has become a bird guiding her to travel to Taiwan for the first time in her life. She follows that instinct determined to not only find the bird but also learn about her heritage. She gets exposed to her Asian heritage, meets her maternal grandparents and uncovers secrets that changes what she thought she knew about her family. Most importantly of all, this wild journey filled with magical realism allows her to understand her mother better and along the way, herself too. She begins to face her overwhelming grief as she looks back on the depression that that's plagued her mom for so long and the moments leading up to her death. Including a kiss shared with her best friend Axel, that she hasn't fully faced either. It's an introspective novel but there's an urgency to her Leigh's chase that kept the story going. I was moved by the author's prose, Leigh's love of color to describe her feelings and the relationship she formed with her grandparents. I just think I wanted more though? As much as I enjoy magical realism, there always seems to be a wall for me because I have to suspend my disbelief and juggle it with the "real" parts of it. Whereas with full out fantasy, I'm able to just be immersed in all the fantastical elements and let go, so to speak.

Do I recommend? I do! Especially if you love magical realism. And like I said, the writing is beautiful and touches on grief in a very unique way.

pub 4/24/18 by Wednesday Books
Young Adult - Fantasy
Received ARC from pub
I feel so lucky that the majority of my 2018 reads have been incredible and you can add Sky in the Deep to that list of awesomeness. Wow. I knew I was going to read this as soon as I heard the words: young adult, fantasy and Vikings but I actually went in without any expectations and I got exactly what I didn’t know I wanted. We’re introduced to Eelyn as she rushes into the battle with her father and her clansman, the Aska, against their enemies, the Riki. They’ve battled each other for centuries but then she sees something that stops her in her tracks: her brother Iri who she saw die five years ago in battle. When she’s taken by the Riki, the reunion with her brother is bittersweet (emphasis on the bitter). Everything she thought she knew gets turns upside down and even more so as she lives among the Riki. Despite her desperation to return home, she can’t ignore the lives in front of her, especially when they’re attacked by a ruthless clan that most believe to be a legend. Despite the warrior spirits running through all their veins, this story is about so much more than fighting. Eelyn (who I adored) viewed life in such a black and white way and this experience forces her to open her eyes and see the world differently. She starts to trust Fiske, the son of the family who’s taken her in (it’s more complicated than that) as they realize that their clans need to band together and realize they can’t ignore what’s growing between them (!!). It’s about the bonds of family, loyalty, faith and love and I enjoyed every page of it.

Do I recommend? Yes! This is an excellent debut novel from Young and I can’t wait to read more from her!

Table for Two #16: Black Tap

Alexa of Alexa Loves Books and I have teamed up to bring you Table for Two, a collaboration that involves two of our favorite things - New York City and food. The two of us will be highlighting restaurants and dessert spots in New York City. You'll be hearing our personal opinions on the place and the food, as well as where you can go to try it out for yourself.

For this month's Table for Two, both Alexa and I will be featuring Black Tap but I'll chat about their crazy shakes while she'll tell you about all their burgers.

Black Tap has been on my list of places to try since it opened a few years ago but I never went because I heard the lines were crazy long. Then Alexa said the mid-town location wasn't too bad and she was right! If you consider 40 mins with a line out the door as not too bad. But it was truly well worth the wait. We started off with burgers but since Alexa will talk about that the only thing I'll say is – it was the best burger I've ever had, beating even Shake Shack! (Shocking, right?) Now, onto the shakes! 

This is what they're most known for and there are two options: classic (your standard chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, you get the point) and crazy. Of course, we went for crazy! We shared the Bam Bam Shake which a fruity pebbles shake. It comes with a vanilla frosted rim topped with a rice krispy treat, strawberry pop tart, laffy taffy, whipped cream, a cherry and all the fruity pebbles toppings. It's massive so we wisely chose to share it and still couldn't finish. 

I made the mistake of looking up the calorie count the next day and it kind of blew my mind just how much sugar is in this thing. So while it's not something I'd recommend getting every week, it's a perfect treat every once in a while to share with a friend! 

You can find Black Tap at 136 W 55th St and other various locations. Let us know if you check it out!

Stacking the Shelves (57)

I only bought myself one new book to read this month! The rest I was either gifted or sent for review and I plan to get to them soon! I also got some books from ApollyCon which I forgot to include in this photo but I was too lazy to retake it. Just believe me when I say I'm very happy about all these new reads.

So, onto the books!