Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Gift Guide for Freya, Harun & Nathaniel | I Have Lost My Way Blog Tour

It is an incredible honor to be part of the blog tour for I Have Lost My Way. I've been excited to read this novel ever since it was announced, and Gayle Forman has successfully written something raw and real with this story. My review will be going up eventually, but today, I have the pleasure of sharing a mini-gift guide inspired by the three main characters - Freya, Harun and Nathaniel.

1. Songwriting journal | Music has always been a part of Freya's life for as long as she can remember. While she's currently struggling with the loss of her voice, I do think she'd still be unable to resist writing down lyrics for songs now and again, especially when she's trying to express all her feelings.

2. Water bottle | Nothing more important for a musical artist than to do their best to take care of their voice! It would be handy for Freya to carry around a bottle of water (or maybe even occasionally tea) to sip from when she's out and about.

3. Phone case | Freya uses her phone for plenty of things - keeping in contact with her mom, getting messages from her team, communicating with her fans, looking things up. It would be a practical gift to get her a phone case that's cute and functional.

4. USB flash drive | It would be a handy little thing to have a flash drive, as it can be used for a variety of purposes. While Harun does own one already, there's no reason to not get him another one since he'll be able to put it to good use whether for personal or professional reasons.

5. Pocket for phone case | Since Harun comes into the city every so often, it'd make sense for him to have one of these. It's a handy little way to keep your Metrocard, and maybe even a bank card easily accessible when you're commuting.

6. Love, Simon | I'm going to opt for movie tickets (though the book could also make a great gift). I think it would be something that Harun would find relatable (I know many others already have), and I genuinely think that he would enjoy the film from an objective standpoint because it's so good. 

7. Backpack | Nathaniel would certainly be able to put a practical backpack like this one to good use. He'd be able to use it to carry his essentials on a daily basis and also use it for traveling. I just imagine him carrying something similar around while he's in NYC!

8. Sunglasses | Here's yet another thing that would make a practical gift. It would help protect Nathaniel's eyes from grit and dust, as well as harsh and bright sunlight. Plus, it'd just look cool too.

9. Baseball | I'm willing to be that Nathaniel would love to have a baseball (and possibly a catcher's mitt and cap too), because he played for his school team. It'd remind him of some good ol' days, and it'd encourage him to start playing again - whether for fun or for sport.

Hope these mini-gift guides made these characters intriguing to you! You're not going to have to wait too long for the book to come out (it's out next Tuesday), but here's a little more about it.

I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: March 27, 2018

Around the time that Freya loses her voice while recording her debut album, Harun is making plans to run away from home to find the boy that he loves, and Nathaniel is arriving in New York City after a family tragedy leaves him isolated on the outskirts of Washington state. After the three of them collide in Central Park, they slowly reveal the parts of their past that they haven't been able to confront, and together, they find their way back to who they're supposed to be.

Told over the course of a single day from three different perspectives, Gayle Forman's newest novel about the power of friendship and being true to who you are is filled with the elegant prose that her fans have come to know and love.

Don't forget to check out the rest of the blog tour stops!
3/19 – Tales of the Ravenous Reader – Playlist
3/20 – Alexa Loves Books – Gift Guide
3/21 – Buttermybooks – Outfit based on the book
3/22 – My Friends are Fiction – Review 
3/26 – YA Wednesdays – Music Monday tie-in post with Songs for each character
3/27 – Oh the Book Feels – Creative Pinterest Board
3/28 – The Fandom – Creative Content
3/29 – Book Reporter – Review
4/2 – Forever Young Adult – Review
4/3 – Home of a Book Lover – Review + Playlist
4/4 – Simply Kelina – Review
4/5 – Just Add a Word – Review

Monday, March 19, 2018

Table for Two #15: Kol Restaurant

Rachel of Hello, Chelly and I decided to do a special Iceland edition of Table for Two for the month of March! We had the most amazing trip (check out my recaps for more - part 01 / part 02 / part 03) and we got to eat at some pretty delicious places. It took us both a while to narrow down which place we each wanted to feature for this post, but I finally ended up going with Kol Restaurant and Rachel decided to feature Prikid

Full disclaimer: Kol Restaurant was the most expensive restaurant we chose to eat at during our trip to Iceland (and that's saying something since Iceland is a pretty expensive place to visit). So, if you're looking to eat on a budget, this restaurant choice might not be for you. However, every single cent spent on this meal was worth it - for taste, for ambience and for the satisfaction of our hunger.

Kol Restaurant is located just a couple minutes walk away from Hallgrímskirkja, which means it's easy to find and in a very central spot. When you step into the restaurant, the host will offer to take your jackets before leading you to your table. The interior of the restaurant possesses warm lighting and dark furnishings that evoke a sense of coziness that invites visitors to come inside, spend some time and really enjoy the luxury of a meal and a cocktail (or two).

We were lucky enough to come in before things got busy and got seated right by one of the windows looking out on the street. It was a cozy little corner spot that allowed us to have some privacy, but also gave us the chance to observe passersby. Once we'd gotten comfortable, we perused the menu to decide on what we'd like to eat and drink. 

We started off by sharing the Icelandic scallops (sautéed scallops, almond praline, dill mayo, pickled shallots, langoustine bisque), which were perfect to whet our appetites with. We each ended up choosing a different main course. I went for lamb sirloin (blueberry polenta, root vegetable purée, 20 months aged Tindur cheese, salsify, pistachio crumble, red onion compote, lamb glaze) and Rachel chose beef x 2 (tenderloin of beef & braised ox brisket, pepper polenta, mushrooms, almonds, sweet potato and black garlic purée, leek, tarragon foam, leek crisp). I have to say - all three dishes were exquisitely plated, the portioning was spot on and the food itself was so delicious. My mouth is watering just recalling that lamb! We pretty much cleaned our plates out, and that's definitely a sign of an excellent meal.

Dessert and cocktails were our next step, and we decided to share Simply the Best, which is a selection of different Kol desserts, as well as ordering Banana Flip cocktails (banana infused rum, demerara, cream, egg, chocolate bitters). I forgot to ask what each dessert was, but we really enjoyed two of the three - something that resembled chocolate brownies with sorbet, and the other something chocolatey with a caramel surprise. It was a really good way to get to try different dessert items to share though!

All in all, visiting Kol Restaurant was an excellent choice for splurging on a meal during our trip. I'd go back for another visit (and for more of that lamb, let's be real), and would highly recommend it if you want someplace special (and are willing to spend a bit) to commemorate an occasion or your visit! You can find Kol Restaurant on Skólavörðustígur 40, and here's their website for more info.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Macky Reads Aldo and Futura

Every so often, Smith Publicity gives me a chance to review a couple of their books. As part of my bid to venture out of my comfort zone, broaden my horizons and just learn a thing or two by reading things I won’t normally read (but won’t drive me batty), I said yes to reviewing these books and I am pretty pleased that I did. 

Aldo is a story about Dr. Isabel Canto and the events that transpired around a period in this book’s history where genetic engineering was nearing a turning point. Specifically, it was the kind of breakthrough that would eventually lead to the prevention of genetic diseases on a scale that could only be described as a “boon to humanity”. 

The story is told through Dr. Canto’s narrative to her son about the fateful events of those times and how her life managed to be linked to a significant pseudo-terrorist threat that opposed the genetic engineering research she and her colleague had been doing at the time. 

The blurb at the back of the book says this is a mystery/thriller/love story and it is absolutely all of those things... exactly in that order, as a matter of fact. It’s most certainly unique in that it manages to (in my opinion) capture the essence of all three genres by smoothly transitioning the narrative mood from one type to the next, mostly through the clever use of the kind of narrative style that involves weaving emails, Facebook posts, tweets, news articles and blog posts into the storytelling. 

The “mixed media” approach softened the transitions for me as “the camera” zooms out on Isabel’s life and paints the world she lives in, then zooms back in on other parts of the story to build the mystery (which was not long drawn out, thank goodness). It keeps the slow drip of thriller steady, and beautifully tells a simple story about love that is sincere and uncontrived. 

One minute, you’re reading about a woman trying to survive the suddenly turbulent waters of her personal and professional life. The next, you are sitting in the front row to watch how a movement started on ethical grounds becomes a sinister force acting with good intentions… until finally you find yourself reminded that these events are narrated by a woman who just wanted to tell the truth she had been long waiting to unburden herself with by telling. And it's also about how love managed to spring from such terrible circumstances and that it’s never too late to grow up and face the future no matter how dark the present might be.

Aldo by Betty Jean Craige | Publisher: Black Opal Books | Publication Date: March 24, 2018 | Source: Copy received from the publisher (Thanks!)

Futura is a novella about a young woman named Ruby, living in a hyper futuristic world where, through the power of technology, everyone on the planet has their basic human needs met, leading the human race to abandon survival and pursue loftier things instead. Health, wealth, pleasure… the perfect techno-utopia. 

That’s how Ruby's story starts out. Jordan Phillips paints a pretty nifty technologically surreal landscape to be the backdrop to Ruby’s very personal journey. The science fiction-y angle (in my opinion) is that no matter how “good” life gets, the human journey towards finding what you want to do on this planet that matters, remains one of the greatest roller-coaster rides of all time. 

I was half expecting the book to careen towards a “how has life and love changed in a perfect world” but in the end, the things that happened to Ruby could very well have happened today or fifty years ago. You grow up, learn to fend for yourself, see from friends what you may want or don’t want for your life and proceed to go about your days making sure you get what you aim at. 

Ruby’s journey in this alternate future we here in the real world can only really dream of having, is one of freedom, truth, love… and finally, beauty. It’s almost like a four act play or short film with an insane budget (because who doesn’t love robot waiters and fancy tech?). 

It’s not my usual fare for sci-fi and I certainly would not classify this as a romance. Slice of modern high tech life? Whatever genre this is, it’s a quick read (I finished the book while waiting to edit one of our book haul videos) albeit the exposition at the start is chock full of historical setup and feels like an audio commentary about the “modern world” before it finally finds its true focus on Ruby’s innermost life. 

I almost feel like I’m back in college and my lit professor would make us read this as part of the curriculum just so we can have discussions about the human journey from a regular Joes (Janes?) point of view. If you have the imagination and inclination for books like this, it’s pretty stunning “visually” in the mind’s eye. And poignant as well. And who doesn’t like poignant?

Futura: A Novella by Jordan Phillips | Publisher: CreateSpace | Publication Date: January 2, 2018 | Source: Copy received from the publisher (Thanks!)


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