Thursday, July 18, 2019

Sláinte, Ireland! Part 01

I can't believe I finally got to cross a new place off my travel bucket list. The place in question, as the title of this post totally gives away, is Ireland. I've wanted to visit the Emerald Isle since I was a child, and to be able to have that experience and share it with three of the people I love best in the world - Macky, Mel & Rachel - was truly special. I'm very excited to share all about our trip!

[As a special note, anything I particularly loved during our trip is marked with a heart – it’s something I’d personally recommend taking the time to do if you’re planning to go to Ireland. I’m happy to answer any more questions if you’ve got them, so feel free to leave a comment or reach out via email or DM on Twitter or Instagram!]

Ireland Travel Trip #1: Bring an umbrella and/or a raincoat. Within the span of a day, the weather can go from being really sunny to a full-on storm and back again. So, it's best to be prepared to face the elements if necessary, and you'll be able to stay (mostly) dry and warm!
  • Chapters Bookstore: Thanks to Google Maps, we discovered that there was a bookstore just a few blocks away from the flat. Macky and I wound up dropping by on our very first afternoon, and were pleasantly surprised! There are two floors - the ground floor with all the new releases and merchandise, and the top floor filled with secondhand books, DVDs and CDs. We spent a good amount of time browsing through their selection and ended up walking out with four new books to add to our shelves!
  • ♥ The Kingfisher Restaurant: Before the girls arrived, Macky and I ended up sitting down to dinner down the block. We had our hearts set on fish and chips (and we really liked their version), but we also tried their seafood chowder (A+) and bread & butter pudding (which I basically inhaled).
  • ♥ L. Mulligan Grocer: Once the girls arrived and settled their stuff into the flat, we decided to walk over to this pub for a late dinner. It was well worth the 20 minute trek! It's got the feel of a traditional pub (which was a delightful way to spend our first night), and their offerings were tasty. We all tried a variety of alcoholic beverages (I tried a White Hag, Macky had a Godfather, Mel tried Trouble Brewing and Rachel picked out the Rascal Strawberry Milkshake) and shared Chicken Kiev, Scotch eggs and a side of corn.
Ireland Travel Tip #2: Wear comfortable shoes. If you intend to do a lot of walking (whether within Dublin's city limits or along the countryside) the way we did, you'll definitely want to ensure that your feet have the right support. It'll lessen the aches and pains you feel at the end of the day for sure!
  • The Winding Stair: After a brief wander down O'Connell Street, seeing the Spire and grabbing a snack at The Rolling Donut, we wound up at this bookshop. While it was definitely smaller than I expected it to be, they still boasted a decent variety of titles (particularly about Ireland, Irish history and Irish folklore) and merchandise. I walked out without any purchases, but I'm still glad we took the time to pop in for a visit.
  • ♥ Brother Hubbard: This ended up being our brunch spot for the day! The interiors are a delightful combination of bright colors, as well as natural lighting and wood. And the food was great! We had the Brother Hubbard's Lamb Mezze Tray, the Brother Hubbard French toast and their weekly special (which was a sriracha fried chicken burger), as well as their iced coffee.
  • Christ Church Cathedral: We wandered past this church on our way to the next place on this list, and stopped a while to take in the formidable structure from the outside. It's always interesting to be able to see places of worship in other countries, particularly if they've been standing for as long as this one has.
  • ♥ Guinness Storehouse: There was no way that we could have called our trip to Ireland complete if we didn't pay a visit to this brewery! While Mel and I are the ones who really enjoy beer out of our quartet, we all ended up tremendously enjoying our visit. We learned more about the history of the brew, how it gets made, the right way to taste it and ended our visit by downing a pint up on the rooftop bar as some pop favorites serenaded us through the speakers. 
  • Leo Burdock: We ended up grabbing fish and chips on a whim for an afternoon snack that we could all share. Their version of fish and chips was certainly tasty, but it was truly their garlic sauce that made the experience even better!
  • Dublin Castle: Since we already happened to be wandering the area, we decided to walk by this castle. We didn't end up taking the time to go inside, but viewing it from afar was interesting as the traditional structure provided a real contrast to the more modern buildings and thoroughfares surrounding it.
  • Murphy's: It would not be an adventure with Rachel if we didn't go out of our way to find ice cream! Upon the recommendation of Rachel, we ended up visiting Murphy's and it was really good. Rachel and I both had scoops of brioscai (cookies and cream basically) on cones, while Macky had two helpings of the saucy chocolate brownie special.

Be sure to come back to the blog tomorrow to find out about the second half of our trip!

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Keeper of the Lost Cities (Giveaway)

It's been a hot minute since I've done a blog post, due mostly to real life and the shenanigans that can bring. But I'm really excited about today's post in particular because 1) I'm partnering with Simon & Schuster for a giveaway and 2) it's for a series that both Macky & I are eager to dive into - the middle grade fantasy series Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger. 

If you haven't yet heard about the Keeper of the Lost Cities series, allow me to share a little bit about it! The series centers around main character Sophie Foster, who discovers she's an elf from the Lost Cities. The revelation of her true identity marks the beginning of her adventures. But there's definitely more to Sophie and her past than anyone knows... Praise for the series includes the fact that the heroine is a  fascinatingly complex personality, the story will appeal to girls and boys equally and that there is a huge fanbase on Instagram invested in these characters and their relationships!

Personally, I actually didn't really have this series on my radar until last year (which is incredible considering the fact that there are over one million books in print worldwide). But after hearing about Sophie (who sounds much like Hermione from Harry Potter) and a couple of details here and there about her adventures (which I won't mention for fear of spoilers for anyone who hasn't yet read it), I knew I definitely was adding this series to my TBR. (Macky decided to when he heard that folks who enjoyed The School of Good and Evil series would like this, as he's definitely a fan of those books!)

Summer seems like the perfect time to indulge, as I'm dying to binge read the whole thing! I plan on participating in a summer readalong (aka #KeeperReadAlong) that author Shannon Messenger will be hosting, which started on June 10th and will go through July 29th. Each week is dedicated to a book (in series order), with a kick-off on Mondays, a fan question answered on the following Sunday and additional extras popping up all throughout the week! Plus, it'll get me caught up on the series before Book 8 (aka Legacy) is released on November 5, which is a major bonus.

Keeper of the Lost Cities (Website)
Books in the Series: Keeper of the Lost Cities, Exile, Everblaze, Neverseen, Lodestar, Nightfall, Flashback, Legacy (out November 5, 2019)
Author: Shannon Messenger
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (Instagram | Twitter | Facebook)
Recommended for ages 8-12
Bonus Content: Reading Guidesbook 7 trailer

Get hooked on the New York Times-bestselling series that’s taking the world by storm!
When Sophie Foster discovers she’s an elf from the Lost Cities, she embarks on an incredible adventure, discovering new abilities, and making new friends. But the secrets of Sophie’s past were buried for a reason and the truth she uncovers could put all of the worlds in danger.
photo credit: Devende Photography
About the Author
Shannon Messenger graduated from the USC School of Cinematic Arts, where she learned—among other things—that she liked watching movies much better than making them. She’s studied art, screenwriting, and film production, but she realized her real passion was writing stories for children. She’s the New York Times and USA Today-bestselling author of the award-winning middle grade series, Keeper of the Lost Cities, as well as the Sky Fall series for young adults. Her books have been featured on multiple state reading lists, published in numerous countries, and translated into many different languages. She lives in Southern California with an embarrassing number of cats. Find her online at or Instagram.

As mentioned earlier, thanks to the lovely folks at Simon & Schuster, I'm hosting this awesome giveaway! Details for the prizing are below, and all you have to do is enter via the Rafflecopter form. This giveaway is US ONLY.

A Little More Weird
One (1) winner receives:
Books 1-3 in the Keeper of the Lost Cities series,
exclusive branded art prints and pin
plus a “We could all use a little more weird in our lives” quote t-shirt!

Giveaway open to US addresses only.
Prizing and samples provided by Simon & Schuster.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Book Haul: May 2019

I've been exclusively doing book hauls on our channel for the past couple of years, but I recently decided that I should start sharing them here on the blog again as well. I'm always excited about getting book mail, whether it's my own purchases or the exciting things that I get from the lovely folk at a variety of publishing houses. Without any more introduction, since we've got plenty to talk about, here's my May book haul! It's coming to you a little bit early, as Macky and I are both at BookExpo starting today and will have another haul up soon. (*All review copies mentioned in this post were provided by the specified publisher for free for feature and potential review.)

Purchased & Gifted

For Review
Digital Purchases & Review Books


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