Tuesday, December 18, 2018

To Whatever End • Kingdom of Ash

It’s been six years since the release of Throne of Glass. It’s been six years since I first fell in love with the story of an assassin, a competition, corrupt rulers and even more corrupt magic. It’s been six years since I started reading this series, and I still feel like it’s so unreal that Kingdom of Ash - the finale in this fantasy series - was released this year. I still can’t believe I devoured that nearly thousand page finale so quickly, and still can’t believe that this story has finally come to an end. But I’m not surprised that I was incredibly emotionally invested (and subsequently devastated and enchanted) by Kingdom of Ash.

Kingdom of Ash is, essentially, the novel that ties all the plot threads together as it brings Aelin’s story (and the stories of her chosen family, friends and allies) to a close. It primarily focuses on the final battle for Terrasen and its allies, the mission to destroy the Wyrdkeys and the journey to rescue Aelin from Queen Maeve. 

While I’ve tried to figure out which of the plot threads was a particular favorite for me, I actually honestly can tell you that I really enjoyed jumping from one to the next to the next. Because I’ve had so much time to really get invested in each of these characters, I was really into discovering how each of their stories would play out. And their stories, their journeys, their relationships with each other, everything about them really, made me incredibly emotional (to the point where I was just sobbing my eyes out for most of this book). There’s just something magical about the way Sarah brought these characters to life and made them feel so real to me (with their very much “in the gray zone” personalities), and it really contributed to how much I loved this story.

I already said that I sobbed my eyes out reading this novel, but I’m not kidding when I tell you that I spent pretty much ¾ of the book just crying my eyes out. And I mean full-on sobbing on my bed, tears and snot all over my face. I just cared so deeply about every single thing that happened in this tale, and there were too many moments that punched me in the feels in all sorts of ways. It was tremendously emotional to be able to accompany Aelin for the last leg of her journey (and all the other wonderful characters in this story too), and I’m so thrilled that I really loved how it all turned out.

I’d be hard-pressed to pick a favorite character, line, moment or book, because this series as a whole just means a ton to me. I personally love the Throne of Glass series so damn much (and I explain a little bit more as to why here), and it’s cemented itself as my favorite series I’ve read as an adult. Kingdom of Ash was a fitting, well-written, engaging conclusion to an incredible series, and I am so in awe of how Sarah just wrapped it all up. (I also can’t wait to reread it and be emotionally devastated yet again, even though I know what’s coming.)

Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas | Series: Throne of Glass #7
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA | Publication Date: October 23, 2018
Source: Purchased the hardcover, Kindle book and audiobook

Monday, December 17, 2018

Table for Two #24: Jack's Wife Freda

Rachel of Hello, Chelly and I have teamed up to bring you a collaboration that involves two of my favorite things: New York City and food. Welcome to Table for Two, where the two of us will be highlighting restaurants and dessert spots in New York City. Today, I'll be sharing my thoughts on Jack's Wife Freda, while Rachel features the Dominique Ansel Bakery.

I've got to give credit where credit is due here - it was my friend Lili who first brought me to Jack's Wife Freda. I'd vaguely heard of this place before that initial visit, but it was everything I wanted it to be and more and I was instantly a fan. I've since been back to visit a couple of times, and I thought it was definitely one spot that warranted inclusion in this monthly feature! Thankfully, we were finally able to pick out a Saturday to have brunch and visit Jack's Wife Freda (specifically, the branch that's on Carmine St., which is the only one I've gone to).

photo credit

I quite enjoy the cozy, bright aesthetic this restaurant has. There's a homey vibe to the place, where visitors will instantly feel welcome as soon as they step in. There's a bar to one side, a long communal table in the center, booths along the edges of the restaurant and a smattering of smaller tables scattered all throughout. Everything is bright, with a muted pastel color palette and a heavy inclusion of white and marble, and I love it dearly because it matches my personal aesthetic so well. I will say that it can get really crowded (and slightly claustrophobic and noisy as a result) real quick, so I'd recommend going as early as possible if you do get to visit!

photo credit (for lower right)

I've only ever had brunch at Jack's Wife Freda, and because I love it so much, it's constantly what I'm convincing people to go experience on their first visit. Sadly, they no longer have my favorite dish (the "pink" Eggs Benny) available, but they do still have a couple of other things I love. This time around, we had a variety of dishes: green shakshuka (2 baked eggs in a green tomatillo sauce served with challah bread), grilled haloumi, rosewater waffle and Madame Freda (pressed sandwich with duck prosciutto, cheddar bechamel, gruyere and a sunny side up egg). Everything was definitely delicious!

Jack's Wife Freda is definitely one of my staple brunch spot recommendations in the city. They currently have three branches: 224 Lafayette Street, 116 8th Avenue and (my personal favorite) 50 Carmine Street. Definitely let me know if you decide to go and visit!

Friday, December 14, 2018

Abbreviations #72 | At the Stroke of Midnight, Bucket List to Love + Josh & Hazel's Guide to Not Dating

Cynthia’s life was perfect - until her husband ran off with all their money and their babysitter. Struggling to make ends meet, Cynthia meets two other ladies - Ariel and Isabelle - at an annual Halloween block party who have money troubles of their own. When the three of them are mistakenly invited to don their princess costumes as strippers for a party, they realize that this could be a lucrative way to earn some cash. But will Cynthia be able to let her inhibitions go and, just maybe, find a new happily ever after? Not gonna lie, it took some time for me to get into At the Stroke of Midnight. But once it clicked (around the time of the Halloween block party), it was really addictive. I loved that it was essentially a modern-day fairytale, with details inspired by the original source material. I enjoyed all three women (and their distinctive personalities), and the friendship that develops between them all. And I definitely had fun reading about the romance too! I’m glad Kelly put this series on my radar, and I can’t wait to pick up the next one.

At the Stroke of Midnight by Tara Sivec | Series: The Naughty Princess Club #1 | Publisher: Swerve | Publication Date: February 27, 2018 | Source: Purchased the Kindle book

Aya Contreras is excited to have the opportunity to study architectural design in Tokyo. Armed with a bucket list from her sisters and ready to take on her study program, she discovers one black cloud in her otherwise amazing experience - Ryo, her assigned tutor (a buddy to help her acclimatize), doesn’t seem to like her very much. But when they’re paired together for a design competition, they learn that there’s more to each other than meets the eye… When I picked up Bucket List to Love, I was in the mood for something light and fluffy and this fits that description perfectly. (It’d make a cute TV movie too.) I enjoyed the fact that this was set in Tokyo, Japan (one of my favorite places in the world!) and features a lot of Japanese cultural details and vocabulary (again, something I truly love). In fact, that was my favorite thing about this story overall! While I did end enjoy the family and friendship bits, and while I thought the romance was cute, I didn’t particularly find this one memorable. It especially fell flat for me in terms of giving me a romance that I could really sink my teeth into it and root for, which was a little disappointing. Still, if you’re looking for stories in this genre (and want to read something written by a Filipino author), it was definitely a quick, fun-at-the-time read.

Bucket List to Love by C.P. Santi | Publisher: Anvil Publishing | Publication Date: July 14, 2017 | Source: Paperback gifted by my friend Sam | Owned the Kindle book

Hazel is definitely quirky, with a lot of habits and lifestyle choices that are likely to send most people running; Josh is the complete opposite - mellow, relaxed and generally your typical sort of guy. When their paths cross again ten years after first meeting in college, they strike up an unexpected friendship. And while they won’t ever date each other, there’s no harm in setting up blind dates for each other… right? Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating is the fifth Christina Lauren book I’ve read this year, and I enjoyed it. It was light-hearted, entertaining and just what I needed when I picked it up. I enjoyed getting to know both Josh & Hazel (and I would totally be best friends with both Hazel and Josh, for the record), and since I’m a sucker for the best friend’s older brother and friends-to-lovers romance tropes, you can probably guess I was really into this story. Really, the only reason I didn’t enjoy this one more was because of the ending - which I wasn’t keen on, personally. Still, like their other books, this was a fun read, and I’m still glad I checked it out.

Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren | Publisher: Gallery Books | Publication Date: September 4, 2018 | Source: Purchased the paperback


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