October 18, 2019

What I'm Listening To | Sweater Weather Mix

I love making playlists but it's been a while since I've made one to fit a certain mood or season. Fall seemed like a great time to start up again. I tried to think songs that I'd want playing in the background while lounging on the couch, driving in my hometown or leisurely walking through the city. In other words – cozy, chill and laidback. Here are 15 songs that I think invoke that feeling! 

1. Sweater Weather – The Neighborhood
IMHO you can't make a Fall playlist without including this song.

2. October  Alessia Cara
October was the inspiration for this playlist!

3. The Bones  Maren Morris, Hozier
I was a huge fan of this song already but hearing it as a duet with Hozier made me love it more.

4. Heartland – Hailey Whitters
It's a song about her hometown and it really does give me that cozy, homey feeling. 

5. I Got – Young the Giant
Will I ever get tired of this song? (No.) 

6. Echo – Incubus 
I saw Incubus recently so they were definitely on my mind. And for some reason, Fall puts me in the mood for laidback alternative rock and this fit the bill. 

7. Walk Across the Water – The Black Keys
At first I was set on choosing an older song of theirs but I remember this from their latest album and how much I liked it.

8. Almost (Sweet Music) – Hozier
Hozier's voice just soothes me, what can I say. 

9. The Best  James Bay
James Bay is so freaking good at covers songs and adding a whole other level of emotion to them. I love this one. 

10. If I Can't Have You – Sara Bareilles
Hands down, the best song on her latest album. 

11. You Give Me Something  James Morrison
Apparently sad love songs are my jam during the fall! 

12. 10,000 Hours – Dan + Shay, Justin Bieber
But just to change it up, here's a happy love song that I adore. 

13. Say It – Maggie Rogers
The lyrics to this one have been really speaking to me lately. 

14. leaves – Miguel
I was looking through my old playlists to get song ideas and as soon as I saw the title "leaves", I was like yes, this will work! But it's also great.

15. Calm Down – Pete Yorn
If there's anything I want from Fall right now, it's nothing but calm and laidback days and the vibe of this song captures that. 

What are some of your favorite songs for Fall?

October 16, 2019

Mini-reviews: Well Met + The Paris Orphan + The Liars of Mariposa Island

pub 9/3/19 by Berkley
Women's Fiction - Romance
Received ARC from pub for review
⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4 stars | I'm a sucker for hate-to-love relationships abut having one of my favorite romantic tropes set against the background of a Renaissance Faire took it to a whole other level. Emily relocates to Willow Creek, Maryland, for the summer to help out her sister and somehow gets roped into volunteering for the local Renaissance Faire with her niece. From day one, she butts heads with Simon, a schoolteacher and one of the main organizers of the faire (it's a family business of sorts). But something changes between them when they don their costumes and get into characters. They begin to realize and fight what we already know – that they have a ton of chemistry! Whether they were flirting, bickering or just getting real with one another, I enjoyed all of their interactions. But it was about more than just the romance. It was also about these two individuals figuring out what they wanted. For Emily, it's family, stability, friendship and something of her own – which she feels like she has in Willow Creek. And even though the book is told from her perspective, Simon and his personal ties to the faire play a big role too and I enjoyed his story just as much. Overall, I was very impressed by this author's debut novel and I'm excited to see what she does next.

pub 9/3/19 by Forever Romance
Historical Fiction
Received ARC from pub for review
⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4 stars | I sincerely hope Natasha Lester never stops writing historical novels set in Paris. She has this way of making her stories immediately compelling and expertly weaving between timelines, and this was no exception. First you have American model, Jessica May, who arrives in Europe during the 1950s to cover the war as a photojournalist for Vogue and as you can imagine, experiencing all sorts of truly horrible, sexist behavior. She perseveres through tenacity and with the support of friends, such as Captain Dan and a little orphan girl named Victorine. My favorite parts of the book were easily the moments that described her war photography, who and what she saw, and the brewing romance with Captain Dan. In the present, you have D'Arcy Hallworth who arrives in France to curate a collection of famous wartime photos by a reclusive artist but in the process, she ends up uncovering long-kept secrets about her own life and herm other Victorine that change her forever. Her story was interesting but as you can imagine, Jessica May was truly the star of this book. I will say that I did have a few reservations though, mainly around the many subplots. The war in itself and Jessica May's struggles for equality were huge arcs but the author continued to throw in so many (and IMHO, unnecessary) twists and turns that I couldn't help likening it to a soap opera. I would've liked to see certain things edited out and a more cathartic ending. It's still an excellent book though but these reservations kept it from replacing The Paris Seamstress as my favorite.

pub 9/17/19 by Roaring Brook Press
Young Adult - Contemporary
Received ARC from pub for review
⭐⭐ 2 stars | This is my fifth Jennifer Mathieu book and honestly, the first one that's fell flat for me. It alternates between three characters: siblings Elena and Joaquin set during the summer of 1986 and then their mother's perspective set in the past during the time she fled Cuba to come to the United States as a teenager. For Elena, the only reprieve she gets from her mother's controlling ways is during the summer when she can babysit for the rich and perfect Callahans. When she meets a boy that summer though, it's a huge moment for her as she quickly for him and begins rebelling in order to see him. But I just didn't care for her or the relationship at all. This was an ongoing problem for me throughout the book because I also didn't care for their mother's story or her character either. I don't think we're meant to like her but she felt so one-dimensional and again, maybe that was the intent but it didn't work for me. Joaquin's story was the only one that got any sort of sympathy from me because both women in his family took him for granted and I didn't blame him for wanting to escape. Ultimately, even though the writing made the book a quick read and the plot did manage to surprise me a couple times, I just didn't enjoy reading it.

October 14, 2019

Project Ice Cream

This Project Ice Cream update is going to continue my recent trend of revisiting places and trying out some new ones! So many new ice cream spots pop up every year and sometimes it can be hard to keep up. But also, I enjoy going back and seeing if a certain place was as soon as I remembered. (Luckily for me, the answer is usually yes!) 

[top-bottom; left-right]

1. SnowdaysMy third visit to Snowdays and yes, I'm still a fan! If you're in the mood for ice cream but want something super light, this spot is perfect for you. In the past, I usually got their signature combinations but this time I wanted to make my own: sweet milk & black sesame shaved cream with pocky, mochi, fruity pebbles and condensed milk drizzle.

2. WowfullsI absolutely love the combination of ice cream with egg waffles. There's a couple places where you can get it in NYC but this was my first time trying Wowfulls. It's a bit of a hole in the wall but Alexa & I loved it. I got the original waffle with Thai tea ice cream, mochi, fruity pebbles and condensed milk. (I tend to get the same toppings 😋)

3. Venchi • I had tried Venchi before at Woodbury Commons, of all places, but didn't realize they had a storefront in the Flatiron area too. It's worth checking out just to see their chocolate waterfall but the gelato is pretty great too.

4. Cha Cha MatchaThe aesthetics of this spot is so freaking adorable. They go all in with their matcha theme and I always want to take a million photos while I'm there. I had only ever tried their drinks before but during the summer they had a matcha swirl soft serve was that delicious! They may still offer it but I'm not 100% sure.

5. Kith TreatsAnother favorite combo of mine is ice cream and cereal so Kith Treats had been on my list for a while. When it opened up at Hudson Yards aka right across from my office, I knew it wouldn't be long before I checked it out. Unfortunately, it didn't quite live up to the hype for me. It was good but I wasn't blown away and I didn't think the price was worth it. (Milk and Cream Cereal Bar is way better.)

6. OddFellows Ice Cream • Their Coffee & Cream branch is Nolita is one of my favorite ice cream spots for its aesthetic and their absolutely perfect scooping. They don't really change up the flavors but I'm okay with that as long as it's consistently good, which it is. I always get Thai tea and cake batter from here.

7. Alphabet ScoopThis is a very simple, no frills kind of ice cream shop. I liked the ice cream well enough but it's so far out of the way for me and not worth the trek. That being said, I do find admire their mission statement. They hire and train local youth to work in the store to give them mentoring and job experience.

8. Van Leeuwen Ice Cream • You know how I mentioned that Hudson Yards is across the street from where I work? Well not only do they have Kith Treats, but they also have Van Leeuwen. So basically whenever I'm in the need of a pick-me-up or I'm just craving ice cream, I find myself going here. I wouldn't say it's a favorite but it definitely hits the spot.

9. Angela's Ice Cream & Desserts • I shared my full thoughts on this place back in August but in short, I really liked it! It made me so happy to discover an ice cream spot that's Filipino-inspired. I love seeing flavors that are familiar to me (I got pandan and jackfruit, the latter which I had never tried before) and I'd love to see this place get more attention.

Which of these places have you been to?

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