July 12, 2019

Happy Bastille Day!

Bastille Day is two days away and I'm celebrating on the blog as I do every year! I'm such a francophile and my love of all things Parisian increased tenfold after visiting for the second time in May with Alexa (see recaps here and here; Paris and London are definitely my two favorite cities). 

In honor of Bastille Day, we decided to spend a day in the city visiting French spots, which is what we did last year as well. We always end up finding new places and we lucked out with absolutely beautiful weather too. 

Our first stop was brunch at Cafe D'Alsace, a popular French brunch spots on the Upper East Side. We got there 15 minutes before it opened on a Saturday and there was already a bit of a line. We were seated right away though. I got buttermilk pancakes, Alexa got a Belgian waffle and we shared an omelette Lorraine (caramelized onions, double-smoked bacon, aged Gruyère, roasted potatoes, mixed greens). It was very easy to see why this place is so popular! 

From there we walked to the Central Park Conservatory Gardens, which I didn't even know existed until I started planning our outing! It's "Central Park's six-acre formal garden and divided into three smaller gardens, each with a distinct style: Italian, French, and English." Of course we headed straight to the French one. The garden overall was smaller than I expected but still charming and great for a casual stroll or photo op (in our case, we did both). 

Our next stop was The Metropolitan Museum of Art, which we hadn't been to in years! Even though this museum is overwhelming in size, there's something very calming about just walking around leisurely and taking in all the art. Since we were celebrating Bastille Day, we purposely kept an eye out for French art. We can't resist Degas (ballet lovers over here as you now) and that Joan of Arc is one of my faves. We ended up spending only a little over an hour here but it was worth it to see paintings I adore. 

The last leg of our day was more walking and eating. We walked to La Librairie des Enfants, which is another one of those spots I never knew existed! It's a quaint children's French bookstore, that not only sells solely French literature but also gives French lessons to all ages. We then stopped for snacks at Maison Kayser (croissants and coffee!) and Laduree (macarons that we picked up to go). And finally we walked by French Institute Alliance Française (they host a Bastille Day celebration every year) and Chanel (we didn't go inside because too tempting!).


It was so fun to walk around NYC and pretend for a few hours that we were in Paris again together. 

Have you been to any of these places?

July 10, 2019

Mini-reviews: The Traitor's Kingdom + Past Perfect Life

pub 7/9/19 by Imprint
Young Adult - Fantasy
Received ARC from pub for review
Now here's a series conclusion that did not disappoint! I've been a huge fan of The Traitor's Circle trilogy since it came out and each book has been consistently good. I've read a lot of fantasy trilogies and re-read a lot of paranormal series this past year and what stood out to me in reading The Traitor's Kingdom is how well Beaty paces her stories and how she chooses to focus on the right drama instead of senseless ones (read: love triangles). Every moment pushes the plot forward or becomes a nugget or clue to a future reveal. Even though this book felt the most predictable for me, that didn't take away from my enjoyment or from the lead-up to the main characters finally figuring it out themselves. And surprisingly, it was refreshing to read fantasy that didn't involve any magic. It's more politics, intrigue and strategy which normally isn't my cup of tea but with Sage Fowler and Alex Quinn leading the way, I don't mind one bit. Sage has come a long way from the young girl who botched her interview with town's matchmaker to then become a spy, counselor to the throne, and now, ambassador for Demora representing the the crown as she tries to prevent a war with a rival kingdom. Likewise, Alex is now the major of an elite army and tasked with protecting Sage, the crown and their efforts to secure peace. When an assassination attempt throws a wrench in those plans, Sage and Alex must do whatever they can to reveal the culprit and set things right. It's a lot of high stakes and a couple moments made me gasp out loud in surprise but I loved how the book was a balance between the action and strong character development. Both Sage and Alex feel the pressure of their positions which means they make mistakes and feel doubt. But their love for one another shines through as it always does and their interactions made me laugh out loud (and swoon!), which provided much-needed relief. There's also friendship as the bonds between Alex, the men who follow him and the women Sage has met through out the series become a part of their circle. I really felt this with a fitting conclusion to the story and the characters I've come to love.

Do I recommend? I do! This is kind of an underrated series (IMHO!) and one that I wished would get more love and attention.

pub 7/9/19 by Bloomsbury YA
Young Adult - Contemporary
Received e-ARC from pub for review
(Sidenote: not my best photo 😂)
It's been years since I last read a book by Elizabeth Eulberg and Past Perfect Life was a great reminder of why I became fan back in my early blogging days. Allison Smith is a happy high school senior living in Wisconsin with her widowed father who she has a close relationship with (very reminiscent of Veronica Mars and her dad). She belongs to a great group of friends, who feel a lot like family, including Marian and Neil who might be making the transition from friend to something more than that (they are adorable). Right now her biggest concern is sending out all her college applications and just when she thinks she done, admissions spots a red flag and informs her that she's not actually Allison Smith. This book could've easily delved into the more mysterious or even thriller-ish aspect of this scenario but Eulberg wisely decides to keep it focused on the characters. Namely what this revelation does to Allison and how it upends her whole life and sense of identity. A lot of the story takes place in Allison's head as she comes to grips with this news, which was both a good thing and somewhat bad. It was good because this does affect her most of all and it was important to get her unfiltered feelings. But because there are so many people in her life – friends who are family, biological relatives and a father who did a really terrible thing but also deeply loves her – I wish more time had been spent on the latter and exploring how finding out the truth had this ripple affect on all the aforementioned relationships. It's touched on, but I wanted a lot more or at least an ending that gave a bit more closure.

Do I recommend? It's quick and interesting read so if you've been eyeing this book, I'd recommend borrowing it from the library.

July 8, 2019

What's in My Bag | Paris Edition

For the newbies: From 2013-2017, I had a BookBags feature where I paired books with bags and in the middle of that, I introduced What's in my Bag as a subset of that feature where I shared what's in my bag and invited other bloggers to guest post too. I'm so excited to bring this feature back this year (2019)!

Did you guys know it's Bastille Day on Sunday, July 14? I celebrate on the blog almost every year and that post will go up this Friday but I wanted to do something a little extra because I went to Paris a couple months ago. I fell in love with the City of Lights all over again! In the months leading up to the trip, I was prepared for sightseeing, lots of walking and eating a ton of croissants. But I also knew I'd be shopping. I find everything about French styles and brands très chic (I mean, doesn't everybody?) and I thought it would be fun to do a Parisian edition of What's in my Bag. So here we go!

The Bag

Polene Numero Un | This was the one thing I absolutely knew I was going to buy during my trip. I had been stalking this brand and this bag in particular for months on Instagram but I was holding off because I wanted to see it in person. It is so pretty! I love the structure and that I can wear it either as a crossbody, over the shoulder or by hand. It's also petite-friendly which is a major plus. Unfortunately, the brand doesn't offer the duty-free perk you typically can get while shopping abroad but honestly, it was totally worth it.  

The Necessities

Chanel Classic Zipped Coin Purse | I couldn't go to Paris and not visit Chanel! Even though I was very tempted by a purse, I wasn't ready to spend that much on a bag (I don't know if I ever will!). That said, I knew I wanted to at least look at their wallets. And as soon as I saw the quilted leather with the gold hardware, I knew I wanted to buy it. It's the perfect size and fits in even my smallest purses. I love it!

Square Pouch from Graphique de France | Yes I'm still carrying all my necessities in this pouch. I have other ones that I'll sometimes switch to but I always come back to this.

Concealer, perfume, lip balm and gloss, hand wipes, anti-bacterial | Same stuff but a couple new brands in there! For lips, I'm still obsessed with my Coola Mineral Liplux but in the mornings and at night I put on Homéoplasmine which is a French cult product that can be used to soothe skin in general. I'm also newly in love with another French brand, Clarins and their 
Instant Light Lip Balm Perfector is a new fave.

The Extras

Headphones and wide-angle lenses | I love my Airpods, which I've mentioned before, but I also love the purple case I bought for it. Then in preparation for my trip to Paris, I bought this wide-angle lens in rose gold that comes in with a built-in light. I carry it with me anytime I know I'll be taking pictures. It's a million times better than a selfie stick and super easy to use.

Compact mirror and hand lotion | I just bought this mirror recently from Amazon. It's cute and compact for when I want to check my makeup and not have to use my phone on selfie mode to do so. And for lotion, I've been using the rose one from Trader Joe's for months now and it makes my hands so soft.

Hope you enjoyed seeing what's in my bag 
and what I bought from Paris! 
What are some of your necessities?

If you're interested in doing a guest post, email me!

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