It is not an exaggeration when I say that I've been looking for a ballet book like Kisses and Croissants for a very long time. One of my pet peeves is that most of the ballet books I come across mention being influenced by Black Swan, which I hate. Last time I checked, you can be a ballerina without some sort of murder/suspense/mystery involved. Which is where Kisses and Croissants comes in! It actually reminded me of the last ballet book I loved, Bunheads by Sophie Flack, which I read back in 2012 (see, it's been forever!). 

In Kisses, Mia, a seventeen-year-old American girl, is about to embark on the opportunity of a lifetime. She's headed to Paris for an elite summer ballet program and if all goes according to plan, she'll snag an audition with one of the world's best ballet companies. But of course, being in Paris opens her eyes not only to the competitive ballet world but also travel, friendship, and love (in the form of a charming French boy named Louis who certainly had me swooning). 

What I loved about this book was how at its core it focused Mia's love for dance. She knows it's her calling and we watch her fight every step of the way to prove herself at this competitive level. I immediately rooted for her and thoroughly enjoyed the descriptions of her classes. But I think there was a really great balance and exploration of her as a young woman traveling for the first time without her family. She explores the beautiful city of Paris, which made me so nostalgic. We get to see her open up and let loose a bit as she befriends the other ballerinas, juggling her dedication with fun. There's also an interesting aspect with her family and how much they did (or did not) understand how strongly she felt about ballet. And lastly, there's the romance which I absolutely adored. Seriously, how come I never meet cute boys on my travels? 

Do I recommend? 100% yes! I think if you're a YA contemporary fan in general, this a very enjoyable read but if you happen to love ballet too, you're really going to like book! 



***
pub 4/6/21 by Delacorte Press 
Young Adult - Contemporary
Received e-ARC from pub for review
I can't say it enough - it felt so good to be together in person after a year of only FaceTime chats! Even though Alexa and I have been regularly meeting up since June, Kristin joined us this past Saturday making this our first post-pandemic hangout. And it was so, so nice. 

We met at South Street Seaport and basically did almost exact same thing as last month. But hey, we know what we like. And what we like is brunch, books, and lots of talking as we walk around or sit by the water. We got coffee and pastries from Cafe Patoro, lunch at Industry Kitchen, book-shopped at McNally Jackson (never again will I take for granted the simple of joy of being in a bookstore with friends), and walked along the pier. But the weather was actually nice enough for ice cream! It's so funny, when we were standing in line for Big Gay Ice Cream, I couldn't help turning to them both and saying: "OMG we're getting ice cream together!" It's such a small thing but the whole day felt shockingly normal (except with masks and lots of hand sanitizer). 

It's really these tiny moments with loved ones that provide some much needed light to all the craziness happening in the world right now. At least that's how I feel! 






After reading Rosie Danan's surprisingly delightful debut, The Roommate, I was excited to see where'd take Naomi Grant, who very much stood out from the moment she was introduced, in The Intimacy Experiment. And this shouldn't come as a shock but her second novel was just as good! Danan continued to perfectly blend steamy and humorous moments with important themes regarding faith, accepting one's self, and sex positivity. These aren't easy elements to mix together but she makes it work and I just loved Naomi and Ethan's story so much. 


Naomi is still the co-founder of the sex-positive start-up with Clara and Josh, but she wants to try her hand at live lecturing. Unfortunately, higher ed isn't willing to hire her. This is where Ethan Cohen comes in. He's become a (young) rabbi of his own synagogue but its numbers are dwindling fast and if he doesn't turn things around soon, they'll have to close. To attract a younger crowd, he hires Naomi and together they host a seminar series on Modern Intimacy. Not only do people connect with their lectures but naturally, Naomi and Ethan grow closer and soon their attraction to one another is hard to ignore. 


I very much shipped these two! On the surface, they seem like complete opposites who wouldn't work. But we really get to see their relationship grow plus how and why they connect. The development of their closeness felt so believable. But it wasn't just the relationship. We also see how they grow as individuals and how their pasts and faith play a role in that too. Like this relationship, the book at the surface level may seem like just sexy, fun times (which were certainly there!), but there's so much more than that. I found the discussions about faith very thought-provoking and like its predecessor, appreciated all the positive themes on sexuality and love. 


Do I recommend?
I do! If you enjoyed The Roommate, you won't be disappointed with this! And if you haven't read either book, you definitely should. 


***
pub 4/6/21 by Berkley 
Adult - Contemporary Romance
Received e-ARC from pub for review


I pretty much love celebrating any holiday with my family but I have to say, with my baby nephew around, these special occasions are even sweeter. 

For Easter, my dad and I went to church in the morning and I was ridiculously excited to put on a dress. I can't remember the last time I got even semi-dolled up for anything. Then afterwards, we headed home to have lunch (I'm officially obsessed with Bonchon now) and shower baby Ian with attention. He woke up from his nap to find all of us with Easter baskets for him to open and while he may not remember it, we certainly will. It was just really fun to put together these little gifts, although I definitely bought candy for us grownups, and take a bunch of pictures outside since it was so nice out. 

And I know I probably sound like a broken record when I talk about any family gathering from the past year but I'm genuinely grateful that we formed our little pandemic pod in order to spend time together safely. Plus as of this week, more than half of us will be fully vaccinated while the rest (including me!) have the first shot already. By Ian's first birthday next month, we'll be at 100% and I seriously cannot wait. It feels like a small light at the end of a very dark tunnel but I'll take it! 

***
Hope you all had a nice weekend and a good start to your week!


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


Links
1 / As a Filipino-American, I've been struggling with the news regarding all the hate crimes against Asians. I've been sharing stories on my Instagram but I haven't said anything directly because there are no words to express exactly how I feel. But I'm angry, sad, and scared. I did want to share some links here though like to Stop AAPI Hate and this comprehensive list of where to make donations

2 / But aside from staying informed and making donations, there are other ways to show support. Here are links to Asian-owned businesses from Good Housekeeping, Asian beauty brands on Shape, and Asian skincare on Allure. From these lists, I personally just bought facial spray, cream blush, and lip gloss from Tower28 and I'm a huge fan! 

3 / The New York Times shared 7 steps for better sleep and I don't know about you but I definitely need the advice. I've tried some of these already and they totally work. 

4 / The Everygirl posted "12 Parts of Your Home You Need to Spring Clean ASAP" and yeah, I totally need to clean some of these spots. But I did deep clean my kitchen this past weekend so I made progress. 

5 / I think a lot of people will relate when I say I gained weight during quarantine. A writer on Cupcakes & Cashmere talked about how she came to terms with this and discovered a healthier relationship with herself

6 / As I was going through who I follow on Instagram to clean out that list, I realized one of my favorite fashion bloggers (Steffy's Style) was missing. So I went to her blog and saw that she had written a post about deactivating her Instagram account and why. I really think it's worth reading. I very much respect her online presence and it's sad that people often forget there's a real human being with feelings on the other side of the computer. 

7 / Why aren't more people talking about The Nevers? The trailer popped up on my Twitter feed and I'm obsessed! I never heard of it before but it looks amazing! And the actress who played Demelza on Poldark (aka the best part of that show!) is in it. 


Loves


1 /
After eyeing this dual sanitizer box and phone charger for over a month, I finally caved and bought it. And 100% no regrets. 

2 / This is the facial spray from Tower 28 that I mentioned earlier. I swear I see a difference when I use it! 

3 / I bought this pen stand from Yamazaki Home somewhat on a whim. But I just loved the look of it and when it arrived, it did not disappoint. It's perfect for my desk and let me consolidate the multiple holders I had for pens, markers, lotions and more. 


***

Do you have any links or loves to share?
Would love to hear about them!
Life lately
When the pandemic first started, I felt like I suddenly had all this extra time on my hands. It's funny how life just adjusts and I find myself wishing again for more hours in the day. I evaluated where my time was going to see what I could cut out (unfortunately skipping work was not an option) but I realized I could start blogging twice a week instead of posting three times. I started doing that this past month and it was totally the change I needed. Granted I still wish I had more free time but at least I'm on my computer less during the weekend now. 

Other than that, I'm feeling happier with the longer and warmer days, seeing more of my family members get vaccinated (and I will be soon too!), and planning outdoor hangs with my cousins and friends. Maybe I'm being too optimistic but I have a good feeling about the upcoming months. 


Feb-Mar Superlatives
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On the blog


One-sentence reviews
These are books (physical + ebooks) from my TBR or the library aka the non-review books.


 ***
How's your month been?
Fake relationships are one of my favorite romance tropes so when I saw the description for The Dating Plan, I jumped at the chance to read it. Daisy Patel is a software engineer who has a plan for her life and it doesn't include getting married or falling in love, much to the unhappiness of her family. So she comes up with a plan to ask Liam Murphy, her childhood crush, to be her fake fiance. He benefits from the arrangement too because his inheritance is contingent on being married plus he's always wanted to reconnect with Daisy after he broke her heart as teenagers. Soon the fake dates they go on to make their relationship seem real.. start to feel real to them as well. But are they willing to admit that to themselves?

I thought the book had a strong start. As someone who was in the tech start-up world for a long time, a lot of those little details surrounding Daisy's job (and even Liam's to a certain extent) resonated with me. Not to mention, their meet-cute was truly hilarious. The dynamic between them were definitely there and I did find myself pretty amused at a handful of moments. But the book and story just progressively waned and even dragged at some points, which was surprising given that it's a short book. It felt very superficial and never dug too deep with character development. Instead the author chose to emphasize just certain aspects of their personalities like Daisy being a nerd or Liam having a past. It made them caricatures instead of fully-realized characters. And if can't connect to at least one of the protagonists, it makes it difficult to connect to the romance and story overall. 

Do I recommend? I think there are better fake relationship books out there if you also enjoy that trope. I ended up giving this 2.5 stars which for me translates to as just "okay" and ultimately forgettable.


***
pub 3/16/21 by Berkley Books
Adult - Contemporary Romance
Received e-ARC from pub for review

It's spring! I'm loving the longer days, the extra sun, and warmer weather. This past Saturday, my cousins and I met up at Garret Mountain Reservation, a huge local park with lots of different areas to see. It was so much fun and honestly, we mostly just sat around talking. Aside from my family pandemic pod, I hadn't really seen my other extended family members. Some of my aunts and uncles, I haven't seen in a year and then my other cousins, we had done pretty well with outdoor get-togethers during the summer but once it got cold, we had to stop. So this was the first time a bunch of us had hung out since September, if I don't count the 10 minute drive-by on Christmas day. 

It was just one of those days that make you stop and appreciate the little things. That we're all healthy (okay, this isn't so little in light of everything!). That we can find a way to hang out outdoors safely. That we can watch the newest member of our family run around in his walker and squeal over how cute he is (I know I'm biased, but baby Ian is so freaking cute!). That we can catch up on life and talk about everything, from more serious stuff to the random ongoings of our day-to-day. Even though I had been missing our hangouts, this made me realize just how much I did. And like I said, it wasn't anything crazy. We literally just picked up Dunkin Donuts to eat outside, drove to the park, sat around talking, the boys had their skateboards, we all took in the views, and chilled. If there's one single takeaway from the pandemic, it's to not take moments like this for granted. 

Then after we each went our separate ways, I asked my younger cousin if we could stop by the equestrian center in the park. I hadn't been there since Alexa and I went horseback riding back in 2014. I loved seeing them! Except I couldn't pet them because there were signs everywhere saying not to because apparently they bite?! (I think that was a lie but I wasn't going to chance it.) Between all the horse books I've been reading, watching Heartland, and this recent visit, I totally want to go riding again. Hopefully sometime this year I'll make that happen! 


***
What have you been up to lately?
And more importantly, one year into this pandemic, 
how are you all feeling?
Welcome!
Welcome!

Hi, I’m Rachel! New Yorker at heart, Francophile in spirit, and forever wanderlusting. I’m passionate about books, ice cream, photography and finding creativity in my every day life.

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