September 5, 2014

Labor Day Weekend Adventures + Heir of Fire Launch Party

I had the most marvelous Labor Day weekend experience this year! It's probably going to go down in my mind as one of the best weekends of 2014. Why? Well, it had all the things I love: brunch + wandering the streets of New York, aquariums + grocery shopping, and long car trips + hiking. It also had all the feelings I would have ever wanted to have on a weekend: relaxed, peaceful, fun, adventurous, happy, loved. 

Okay, seriously, I'm totally in love with my Labor Day weekend. 

On Saturday, I met up with Rachel because we'd made plans ages ago! We wound up having brunch at The Butcher's Daughter (and it was delicious too), before we wandered around the Nolita/Soho area for a good bit. We chatted about everything and anything, ducked into a couple of shops and really just had a lot of fun hanging out (which is always the case).

English Breakfast + iced coffee for brunch!

On Sunday, I rallied and woke up to go on an adventure with Jaymee & Ephy. Jaymee had never been to an aquarium before, so we took a little trip to The Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk, Connecticut. 

Fun fact: I love aquariums! I'm especially fond of the ones that have stingrays and jellyfish, two of my favorite sea creatures -- and this one did. I got to touch a ray (which I've done before, and they feel quite rubbery) and a jellyfish (which I've never done before, and they feel like Jello for real), got to see sharks, seals, meerkats, turtles and many, many, many fish. It was seriously so much fun, and I felt like a kid again!

I really just can't help finding them pretty.
I'm about to touch a jellyfish! 
I love jellyfish.
my newest buddy ;)
being silly with Jaymee
We also got tickets to watch a film on IMAX, Journey to the South Pacific. It's seriously one of the coolest films, highlighting the islands of the South Pacific and the beautiful coral reefs + marine life that's there. I may or may not have teared up more than once, just because it's so clear that whoever created this film is passionate about how beautiful the environment is and how we should really protect it the best we can. So worth the watch!

We had a quick lunch at Mama's Boy, which serves Southern comfort food. There was great live music, and a lovely ambiance to boot. We shared the biscuits and gravy, bacon and shrimp grits & deviled eggs, and Jaymee and I might have had a drink each. Right after, we were off to Walmart Fairway to do some grocery + house shopping, which is always a treat!

On Monday, Jaymee, Ephy and I headed off on a bit of a road trip to Bear Mountain, complete with snacks and tunes. We hiked all the way up to the top and back down - quite a trek but definitely worth it to see the view! (On a random note, I enjoy hiking. Who knew?) We then popped off over to Woodbury for a bit of lunch and some shopping (mostly for Christmas presents, though I may have snagged an item or two for myself...)

road trip time! 
spot the spiderweb!
catching some sun
panorama action
view from the top
started from the bottom, now we're here!
Seriously, it was one of the best weekends I've ever had.

And then, right after a long day back at work on Tuesday, I hurried over to Books of Wonder for a very special event - the Heir of Fire launch party

In case you live under a rock and have no idea what book series this is referencing, I will point you in the direction of my reviews: novellas, Throne of Glass, Crown of Midnight and Heir of Fire. (And here are a few more: an ode for Throne of Glass | a meal inspired by Throne of Glass | a Crown of Midnight excerpt | book shopping for Celaena | shopping for Celaena | YA Prom story featuring Chaol)

(Clearly, I love this series.)

Anyway, the authors at the party were the wonderful Sarah J. Maas, Susan Dennard and Alexandra Bracken. They're all talented, beautiful ladies who happen to be best friends in real life. Their panel was so much fun, and they discussed everything from fandoms to feelings! There was laughter, there were tears and it was just wonderful.  I enjoyed myself tremendously!

authors Susan Dennard, Alex Bracken & Sarah J. Maas
A few highlights from the panel (which you can see on Twitter if you search for #HOFLaunchParty):

  • Sarah & Alex became friends through LiveJournal, as they discovered shared interests (like Sailor Moon).
  • Alex says that Heir of Fire is "hot boy paradise". (I agree wholeheartedly!)
  • Susan gets to see chunks of the books as Sarah writes. She usually gives her honest opinions!
  • According to Sarah, Susan's upcoming release Truthwitch is their biography in a fantasy world as "the chosen ones".
  • Susan says that Sarah becomes her characters so completely that words just spill out onto the pages.
  • Music is a big part of Sarah's novels, and she creates a detailed playlist for each book. Her playlists are actually outlines of the emotions/scenes in her novels.
  • According to Sarah, she vomits her emotions when she writes.
  • Alex and Sarah write very long drafts, while Susan is usually pretty good at cutting scenes and words.
  • Susan writes mostly by hand, because she started writing when she was still in school. She wrote her first ever story in the 6th grade!
  • Sarah's first fan fic was for Wildfire, Alex's was for Star Wars, Sailor Moon and Harry Potter and Susan's was NSYNC. (I'm with you on this, Susan. Justin Timberlake forever!)
  • Sarah loves Lord of the Rings, Alex loves Star Wars and Sailor Moon and history, and Susan loves all of these + Anastasia!
  • 24 hours to live - what would they eat? Sarah would go for Cheetos (the # kind) + cookie dough, Alex would devour cold Mountain Dew, Spaghetti Os and Oreos and Susan would want sour worms.
  • Sarah struggles with opening chapters. Susan struggles with sad/dark scenes.
  • Sarah and Susan would prefer their books being turned into TV shows, while Alex would prefer neither.
  • Susan has great posts about writing, say Alex & Sarah. (I absolutely agree! Check them out on her site.)

Even though we wound up waiting in line for quite some time, Rachel & I still had tons of fun. We chatted with friends (Hiiii Hannah, Jess, DJ, Julie, Grace, Diya, Mitali, Gaby, Adam!) about all the fun things. And I got to see author Heather Demetrios, who I absolutely adore! 

the gorgeous Sarah J. Maas & I
Finally, after waiting for about 3 hours, Rachel and I were able to see Sarah. We presented her with a gift from the Maas Thirteen - a special scrapbook made by some of the members - and she loved it (and may or may not have teared up over it). It was, as always, such a pleasure to see Sarah and to get to congratulate her on the release of her latest novel! (I may have gotten her to sign 8 books, no lie.)

the amazing Susan Dennard & I
I also love being reunited with the lovely Susan, who is one of the most talented, inspiring and crazy awesome human beings I know! I seriously think she must be an alien because she manages to do so much, and still have time to be really great with all her fans + followers. I just adore her! (If you haven't read her Something Strange and Deadly series, these are my reviews (Something Strange and Deadly (+ A Dawn Most Wicked), A Darkness Strange and Lovely, Strange and Ever After) and here are a few fun posts: a day out in Phillyan interview with Susan, why I love the series, fan/friend letters for Susan, 3 questions with Susan, and what to wear in Egypt.

But for real, I obviously had an amazing week. There were so many things for me to be happy about, and I definitely embraced all the fun and love (and books)! Hope that your long weekends were just as fun as mine was! Till the next adventure then ;)


  1. Ahh Alexa! Your Labor Day weekend was so fabulous! I'm so happy that you had one of the best weekends ever. That brunch place looks DELICIOUS! Sounds like you and Rachel had a great day. And AQUARIUMS! I love them too, there's something about them that makes me feel so young again. And you brave soul, I'd be too scared to touch either stingray OR jellyfish! I've actually never been hiking before, but I think I would like it too, if I go with the right people. It's a good combo of exercise + friends, for sure! And OMG THE SARAH J. MAAS LAUNCH PARTY. You and Sarah are adorable! That's so awesome that you guys made a scrapbook for her. And goodness, EIGHT books?! True fan, true. Fan.

    My Labor Day was spent dancing, dancing, dancing. 2 choreographers came to me studio and taught me my competition routines for the year, and my legs felt ready to fall off by Monday! Literally couldn't move.

    Ah, well, thanks so much for sharing your weekend with us, loved this post!

  2. Your trip to the food and the experience is not it amazing, I wish I could have the experience as you. The joy and the most amazing thing.

  3. I'm a little jealous! But seriously, what a fabulous week. I can't wait to start the Throne of Glass books and I actually just picked up the first Something Strange and Something Deadly after your tweets from the signing. Just like I did with Throne of Glass, but those haven't arrived yet. Congrats on a fabulous week and experience and really great post!

  4. What an amazing weekend!! All that food looks SO AMAZING!! Also -- I love hiking! The view there looks beautiful! Ahhh the heir of fire launch sounds like it was so much fun!! Sarah will be coming here next week for her tour and I'm SO excited for it! I may be bringing so many books for her to sign, I hope she won't mind!! I'm also crossing my fingers they will have hte new ToG hardcover there! I actually haven't read Susan's series but I own the first book so I obviously need to start soon!!

  5. What a fun weekend! Love that you had such a good time and got to do so many fun things! :)


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