Monday, May 22, 2017

Table for Two #5

I'm really excited that Rachel of Hello, Chelly and I have teamed up once more to bring you a brand spanking new collaboration that involves two of my favorite things - New York City and food. We're proud to introduce Table for Two, where the two of us will be highlighting restaurants and dessert spots in New York City. You'll be hearing our personal opinions on the place and the food, as well as where you can go to try it out for yourself!

For our fifth edition of Table for Two, we're doing something a little bit different! Both Rachel & I will be talking about the same restaurant, and it will be the place for both dinner and dessert. What is this place that deserves its very own post from both of us? It's a very special restaurant located in upstate New York called Pandorica. Now, if you're a Whovian, you'll instantly guess what the theme of this place is. But if you aren't, well, now you know - this is a restaurant inspired by Doctor Who!

I officially became a Whovian in 2015, which is when I started binge watching the series from the 9th Doctor. I really love the show - the storytelling, the characters, the themes - and I could probably write an entire post about that, but I digress. I was really excited when Rachel suggested we do the nearly two hour drive up to visit Pandorica, as I'd heard of it before (thanks to Kristin over at Super Space Chick) and had always wanted to go. And it was just as fun as I'd imagined it would be! 

You can already tell from the street just how much thought was put into the design of the place. There's a blue painted front door that mirrors the door of the T.A.R.D.I.S., and a gigantic Weeping Angel all set to greet you in one of the window displays. 

(Yes, we're both in black and gray. No, it was not intentional - just a happy coincidence!)
And once you step in, your eyes are immediately drawn to the gigantic mural at the back of the restaurant (which is one of my favorite designs. But you'll also see the colorful artwork sprinkled on the walls which is all done by a local artist, the fandom paraphernalia scattered all throughout and the TV that is constantly playing episodes from the show. It's a Whovian's dream come true, and both Rachel & I were giddy with excitement to be there.

I found it clever and tongue in cheek to realize that many of the menu items have names inspired by Doctor Who. It was difficult to narrow down what we wanted to to eat, but we eventually picked two different menu items to try for our main meal.  I got the Hooverville BBQ'd Pulled Pork (which is pulled pork with fries drenched in melted cheese on top - so good!), while Rachel got the Are You My Mummy Bacon Bound Meatloaf. We also had dessert, choosing to indulge in the Madame de Pompadour Cake and the Fish Fingers and Custard (which was amazing!).

All in all, Pandorica is worth a visit if you're a fan of Doctor Who! It's not only fun to be sitting amidst all the Doctor Who decor, but the food is pretty great too. You can find Pandorica at 165 Main Street, Beacon, NY 12508.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

{Bookish} Style Files: Flame in the Mist

{Bookish} Style Files is back, and this time, I'll be featuring a young adult fantasy that I'm really excited about - Flame in the Mist. This fantasy novel is about a young girl who has her future determined for her... up until she narrowly avoids death at the hands the bandits sent to kill her en route to her future husband. Dressed as a boy and determined to find out who has set the target on her back, Mariko infiltrates the bandit organization, only to discover there's more to the truth than she ever could have expected. If that sounds epic to you, well, join me in my excitement for this book!

Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh
Series: Flame in the Mist #1
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: May 16, 2017

The daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has long known her place—she may be an accomplished alchemist, whose cunning rivals that of her brother Kenshin, but because she is not a boy, her future has always been out of her hands. At just seventeen years old, Mariko is promised to Minamoto Raiden, the son of the emperor's favorite consort—a political marriage that will elevate her family's standing. But en route to the imperial city of Inako, Mariko narrowly escapes a bloody ambush by a dangerous gang of bandits known as the Black Clan, who she learns has been hired to kill her before she reaches the palace.

Dressed as a peasant boy, Mariko sets out to infiltrate the ranks of the Black Clan, determined to track down the person responsible for the target on her back. But she's quickly captured and taken to the Black Clan’s secret hideout, where she meets their leader, the rebel ronin Takeda Ranmaru, and his second-in-command, his best friend Okami. Still believing her to be a boy, Ranmaru and Okami eventually warm to Mariko, impressed by her intellect and ingenuity. As Mariko gets closer to the Black Clan, she uncovers a dark history of secrets, of betrayal and murder, which will force her to question everything she's ever known.

About the Author: Renée Ahdieh is the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling The Wrath and the Dawn and The Rose and the Dagger. In her spare time, she likes to dance salsa and collect shoes. She is passionate about all kinds of curry, rescue dogs, and college basketball. The first few years of her life were spent in a high-rise in South Korea; consequently, Renée enjoys having her head in the clouds. She lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her husband and their tiny overlord of a dog.

Now is the moment you've likely all been waiting for - the unveiling of the dresses I've chosen to match this beautiful book cover! While none of them are the elusive perfect match, I find that I'm very fond of just about every single one that I've chosen. Which one is your favorite?

Lucky for you, if you're dying to read the book, there's a tour-wide giveaway! Enter for a chance to win one (1) of five (5) copies of Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh (ARV: $17.99 each). NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on May 8, 2017 and 12:00 AM on June 5, 2017. Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about June 10, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

May 8 – Two Chicks on Books – Author Q&A
May 9 – The Eater of Books! – Mood Board
May 10 – Book Hounds YA – Guest Post
May 11 – YA Book Central – Excerpt
May 12 – A Page With A View – Review + Photos
May 15 – The Young Folks – Guest Post
May 16 – Once Upon a Twilight – Author Q&A
May 17 – The Fandom – Guest Post
May 18 – Alexa Loves Books – Bookish Style Files
May 19 – Fiction Fare – Review
May 22 – Brittany’s Book Rambles – Review
May 23 – ButterMyBooks – Review + Photos
May 24 – Mundie Moms – Author Q&A
May 25 – A Perfection Called Books – Review
May 26 – Novel Novice – Flame Pinsperation
May 29 – Twirling Pages – Review + Photos
May 30 – Tales of the Ravenous Reader – Guest Post
May 31 – Oh the Book Feels – Review
June 1 – Dark Faerie Tales – Author Q&A
June 2 – The Book’s Buzz – Japanese Lesson

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Swoons & Spies • The Traitor's Kiss

Sage Fowler has a sharp tongue, clever mind and an unruly temper, all things that make her unfit for marriage in the society she lives in. As a matchmaker's apprentice, it is her job to be observant, to take note of things and to wrangle the young ladies that will be married off for political alliances. But when their group's military escort senses a political uprising in the making, Sage is recruited as a spy to help infiltrate enemy ranks. The more she learns, the more uncertain the world becomes and the less certain she is about who to trust among those who surround her. Will Sage be able to unravel the mystery and help change the fate of her kingdom?

The Traitor's Kiss book cover
Plot? Personally, I feel that the major strength of this novel lies in the plot. It was a story about spies, including the subterfuge, fighting and dangerous adventure that entails. But it was also about relationships, whether it be that of a commander and his squad, or a girl and her friends, or a brewing romance in the unlikeliest moment. I really enjoyed the way that Beaty combined it all into one really compelling storyline, and I can't wait to see where the story goes next.

Characters? I was immediately predisposed to liking the main male character, Alexander Quinn, because he ticked off all the boxes for me - a captain, a big brother and someone capable and confident in his abilities. He stole my heart from the moment he first showed up! But, of course, I harbor a soft spot for Sage Fowler, even though it took a little while before I warmed up to her properly. She was smart, independent and headstrong, all things I love in a female character. I also enjoyed getting to know some of the members of Quinn's squad, as well as Sage's friends, though I don't feel like they were as fully fleshed out as the two main characters.

Writing? The early chapters of this novel were very slow for me, and it took some time before I hit the turning point. But once I did, it was easy to fly through the pages! A lot of that has to do with the shorter, choppier chapters, which switched between perspectives and helped add to the urgency of the pace (particularly towards the end). One other thing that I feel is worth mentioning is that the world-building was weak and suffered from being generic and easily comparable to other fantasy worlds.

Overall? Even though this novel and I got off to a slow start, I wound up really enjoying The Traitor's Kiss. It was a fun combination of spy adventures and swoony bits! I definitely felt very satisfied by the time I turned the very last page, and I can't wait to see how the story continues in the next one.

What is your favorite spy movie? Rachel & I actually discussed this prior to writing out the posts, and I'm fairly confident that she and I will have the same answer - and that is Mr. and Mrs. Smith. It is not only the movie that basically revealed to the world how explosive the chemistry between Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt was, but it was also funny, smart and seriously entertaining. I've watched it a few times since the first time I saw it, and it holds up every time. (I will say that Kingsman: The Secret Service was a close second for me. I really enjoyed that movie too!)

The Traitor's Kiss by Erin Beaty | Series: Traitor's Trilogy #1
Publisher: Imprint | Publication Date: May 9, 2017
Source: ARC received from the publisher (Thanks!)
Buy the Book: Book Depository | Amazon | IndieBound


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