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Book Recommendations | Underrated Fantasy

Two weeks ago I posted a list of underrated YA contemporary romances and I'm back again with another list! This time I'm focusing on underrated fantasy (you can thank Alexa for suggesting it!). This is a genre I absolutely love and have always loved since I was kid. But I think we can agree that there are a ton of young adult fantasy novels coming out all the time and I personally see the same ones get promoted over and over again. And while some are deserving of the praise heaped on them, I'd like to shed some light on some amazing but lesser known fantasy books, across both young adult and adult.

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Air Awakens series by Elise Kova | I don't remember exactly how or why Alexa and I decided to read the first book in this series for our Flights of Fantasy book challenge. But I'm pretty sure someone we followed mentioned it and since it sounded interesting, we decided to give it shot. I ended up binging the entire series in a week! If you love fantasy with a heavy side of romance, elemental magic and intrigue, this is for you. 

The Shattered Court + The Forbidden Heir (The Four Arts, #1-2) by M.J. Scott | The Four Arts series is adult fantasy and I'll admit, I mostly picked it up because of the cover and didn't know much else. But wow, I flew through this book! I thought the world building and magic were well-done and what can I say, I'm also a sucker for romances involving a royal guard.

Roar (Stormheart, #1) by Cora Carmack | As someone who was already a fan of Cora's new adult books, I really didn't know what to expect from her in terms of YA fantasy. And what I got far exceeded my expectations! I'm a huge fan of elemental magic and I really loved her take on it. 

Elemental Blessings by Sharon Shinn | Sharon Shinn is one of those fantasy writers that you have to check out at one point in your life. I started with Archangel but it wasn't entirely for me. Then I read Troubled Waters, the first book in this series, and I was hooked! Each book focused on a different heroine but it's all the same characters and world. 

To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo | I've described this book at the Little Mermaid retelling I didn't know I needed in my life and I totally stand by that statement. It's dark, moody and swoony in a slow-burn kind of way. If you love mermaids and/or sirens, this is a must read. 

Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young | I'm realizing now that I'm a huge fan of Viking lore (as I've watched the Vikings and now The Last Kingdom) but I never thought to look for it in books. This story totally captures the spirit of that lore while delving into what their kind of life means to each of the characters and how important family is. 

Frostblood Saga by Elly Blake | I was telling everyone to read this book after it came out! I've heard some people say it's a bit tropey and I can see why, but it's all the ones I love! Fire and ice magic, feisty heroines, enemies-to-lovers romance. My only complaint is the last book which was still enjoyable but flawed (for reasons I can't say because spoilers!). 

Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa | I used to be the biggest Julie Kagawa fangirl because of the Iron Fey series (which I totally need to reread). But it had been a while since I'd read anything new of hers. Enter Shadow of the Fox which involves kitsune magic, anime vibes and my favorite, a motley crew of characters going on a journey. I loved it and can't wait for book 2!

Sweet Black Waves by Kristina PĂ©rez | I know the story of Tristan and Isolde so I was excited to see Perez's take on it, especially with the introduction of Branwen as the heroine. It was so good! But knowing the source material made me very anxious throughout the book. I can't wait to see how Branwen's tale continues. 

Reign the Earth (The Elementae #1) by A.C. Gaughen | In case you couldn't tell yet, I'm really into elemental magic. However this YA fantasy is definitely on the darker side but the characters, the relationships, the families and how the magic is portrayed makes it worth the read.

Potion series by Amy Alward | I really don't think I've seen anyone talk about this series as a whole, just the first book Madly (also known as The Potion Diaries) back when it was first released in the US. It's such a fun and light magical series.

Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay | It's about Sleeping Beauty's daughter, who is a "warrior princess looking to reclaim her throne." I mean, how do you not want to read this?! Princess of Thorns surprised me with just how much I enjoyed it. If you love fantasy and especially if you love fairytale retellings, this is one to check out.

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What have you read from this list? Or better yet, 
what would you add?

And if you're enjoying this recommendations, let me know what kind of list
you think I should do next!

Festive Fun Day in NYC

Over a month ago, Alexa, Kristin and I decided we were going to have a festive fun day in December and while we chose the date, we didn't actually know what the day would entail aside from getting brunch. But then in week leading up to this event, we put together a full itinerary to explore all the Christmasy things in the city. It was such a wonderful day that made me appreciate not only all the holiday activities NYC has to offer (I feel like we only touched the surface!) but also appreciate for the hundredth time that I have such dear friends to plan stuff like this with. I keep saying this to them and I 100% mean it -- this is the start of a new annual tradition!


We started the day bright and early by meeting at Jack's Wife Freda at 9am. The place got packed very quickly so if you ever decide to check it out, going early is the way to go. It was my first time eating there and I was very happy with the experience. I got the Madame Freda which is a pressed sandwich with duck prosciutto, gruyere & a sunny side up egg (delicious!) while Alexa got the green shaksuka and Kristin the rosewater waffle. I went for something a bit heavier only because I knew I'd need the sustenance for the long day ahead.

After breakfast, we began our trek to visit all the things on our list! We walked to Washington Square Park to see their tree. It's not visible in the picture but it was actually lit up. From there we walked to the Google Hardware Store to see their Dominique Ansel gingerbread house. We ended up seeing that a whole lot more!


Google's pop-up store ended up having way more things to get out than we originally expected. We went inside the gingerbread house to take photos and play with Google home. Then went downstairs for more photo-ops and to check out the little rooms they had set up. My two favorites were by far the photography room and the tiny kitchen. From there, we headed to Dominique Ansel (which I'll tell you more in detail about in next week's Table for Two) but along the way we started a little red Chanel station in front of the store handing out free hot chocolate. Of course, we had to stop and take photos. 


Next we stopped by Kiehl's Gifting Station to take advantage of their "Merry & Bright" photo-op for Instagram. At this point, I was definitely marveling at all the ways these stores were getting into the holiday spirit (and encouraging people to their 'gram on). We made yet another quick stop at Bar Pa Tea to pick up some green tea for the road and met up with DJ for a little bit. 

Our original plan was to see the rainbow book tree at the Strand (it was gone which was so sad) and to see the holiday markets. All it took was a brisk walk through the Union Square Market to decide it wasn't for us and to remove Bryant Park from our list too. Just way too many people! But I'll admit, if it hadn't been so crowded I would've liked to see what the different vendors were. With our change of plans, we headed uptown to Barney's to check out the Alfred's Tea Pop Up. We tried their matcha in blue which was so good and we ended up sitting around (talking about The Mortal Instruments!) for longer than anticipated. 


But after that, it was time to brave the cold and crowds yet again to see how beautifully lit up all the stores were. We made our way to Tiffany's, Louis Vuitton and Cartier. We saw the giant snowflake (my photo makes it looks smaller than it actually was). And then finally we ended the day with Lotte Palace which is officially now one of my favorite trees in the city.

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I love having holiday traditions with friends and as I mentioned earlier, this festive fun day with Alexa and Kristin is one I know we'll repeat next year! 

What's a holiday tradition you have with your friends?
And what Christmasy things have you seen in the city lately?

Links + Loves

Here are some non-bookish articles I really liked this past month and my latest loves.

Links
1 / It was the headline of this article on Self that made me click on it: "Whenever My Life Feels Out of Control, I Go to Ballet Class." But it's the sub-title that perfectly expresses why it resonated with me and that is, "Find something that re-centers you, and never let it go."

2 / One of my favorite areas of IKEA is the plant department! Apartment Therapy shared 6 things I certainly didn't know about it.

3 / I am ridiculously obsessed with leopard right now so when Crystalin Marie post a list of best leopard sweaters, I immediately check it out.

4 / I own a Himalayan Salt Lamp mostly because I like how it looks and vaguely because I know there are some actual benefits to it. Luckily The EveryGirl explains exactly why you should own one.

5 / Modern Love is one of my favorite podcasts even though I'm terrible at keeping up with it. But when I saw that Sandra Oh did one, I had to listen. In other words, you should too.

6 / I don't often post political pieces but this editorial Monica Lewinsky wrote for Vanity Fair is so well done.

7 / Refinery29 has a new "Money series" and their most recent one follows a woman who earns more than $300,00 a year. It's mind-boggling to think of a 22 year old earning that much. Also, what am I doing wrong?!

8 / Every once in a while, Twitter will do something great like reunite two childhood best friends.

9 / Dame Traveler's list of "12 Films That Will Inspire Any Woman to Travel" includes Roman Holiday, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and Before Sunrise aka three of my favorite movies. There a few here that I haven't seen yet and now I'm planning to!

10 / I love creating holiday traditions and while I do have them with my family, I also have them with friends. The EveryGirl talks about why it's important to do so and I couldn't agree more.


Loves

1 / This fluffy fleece jacket from Uniqlo is so warm and cozy while still looking cute and feminine.

2 / During the summer I talked about how much I loved Fresh's rose face cream but shortly after I started experiencing stress-induced eczema for the first time and that wasn't cutting it anymore. The only moisturizer that has worked on my sensitive skin since (and especially with winter) is Avene's XeraCalm cream. Now I won't use anything else!

3 / I've been watching the price for the Instax Share Printer for over a year now. Even though I really wanted one, I also didn't want to pay close to $200 for it. Then during Black Friday the price dropped to $97.95 and I immediately bought it. If you're interested in getting one, the price hasn't gone back up yet.


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Do you have any links or loves to share?
Would love to hear about them!