08/21/17

Favorite brunch spots in NYC

Happy August, everyone!

I’m back in Austin for the next bit of time, hanging out with my parents, getting plenty of sun, and sleeping as much as humanly possible. (Plus, I’m WRITING! WHOOHOO!) This post is dedicated to one of my favorite things, brunch. This summer, I did a lot of brunching in NYC, and I thought I’d share some of my favorite spots all over the city.

The Mermaid Inn (UWS)

This one absolutely blew me away! I got the Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict, and my friend and I shared the fries (which were SO good). Basically, everything on the menu looked delicious! I’ve also been to their sister restaurant which serves killer pizza (Pizzeria Sirenetta). This is a great place to bring friends and isn’t too busy most days! I highly highly recommend it. 

The Wild Son (Meatpacking)

This place is basically one of the artsiest places you can go for brunch, in my opinion. It’s right on the Hudson River and a pain to get to but in such a great area. Right next to the Chelsea Market and the Whitney! It’s a great spot for a health(ier) breakfast, and super cute.

I got the Grandma Anna (pictured in the picture to the right) which had scrambled egg, house guanciale, broccoli rabe chimichurri, sweet hot pepper aioli on brioche. Basically, it was crazy good. We sat at the bar, which is absolutely adorable! You can see a bit of it in the picture on the right.

Petite Abeille (Lower Flatiron/Chelsea area)

Petite Abeille serves Belgian food (!!!) and so I had to try it out. I’ve been following their Intagram account for ages, and finally the food looked too good for me to put off going any longer. So, I went! We got a table pretty much immediately, and decided to split a belgian waffle (because you can’t go to a Belgian restaurant without getting a Belgian waffle). I learned that I don’t think I like waffles.

I ordered the Eggs Benedict Royale which comes with salmon. At this point, I now realized I have an addiction to Salmon Eggs Benedict. The food was incredible, and such a cute spot! They have a tiny little backyard, and I think it would be a great spot to go to in the fall as well. I definitely recommend this spot!

Good Enough to Eat (UWS)

I went to this spot with a friend to get a cheap but delicious brunch, and this place CAME THROUGH. Mind you, cheap on New York standards! We both got the same thing–eggs, chocolate chip pancakes, and bacon. It was utterly delicious! They served the pancakes with strawberry butter, which was a fun and yummy twist. (Picture to the right!)

This is definitely a busy spot though, so I’d suggest going on a weekday to get a good spot! However, I recommend it for a simple but good breakfast for yourself and some friends.

(Also, apologies on the bad picture quality–it’s from Snapchat AND the restaurant was fairly dark.)

The Smith (Lincoln Square)

This is that spot where you have your parents/grandparents/people-who-will-spend-money-on-you take you. My friend and I went on her parents’ dime (long story) so we proceeded to go ALL OUT. We ate so much food we barely had room for dinner that day! However, it was delicious and because I ate so much I can give you some recommendations:

The Smith is famous for their mac and cheese, and as a deep lover of some good ‘ole mac, I would highly recommend splitting this dish. It’s a LOT of food and super rich. It’s yummy, but I’m glad my friend and I shared it.

Get a bunch of things and split them! There’s so much good food on the menu that you just can’t pass up.

MAKE A RESERVATION. This place gets crazy busy!

There’s tons of locations, but I loved the Lincoln Square spot. It’s especially great if you’re going to the Ballet/Met Opera/seeing a show! (We went to go see Oslo after which was AWESOME.)

I got the Eggs Benedict because who else would I be?

(Also, I’ll add to this that before this summer I never ate Eggs Benny. However, I was an overnight convert.)

A sidenote:

Sarabeth’s a common NYC brunch favorite. I, however, am not a huge fan. It’s good, but my feeling is that it’s a bit overpriced for what it is. You can get the same food at other restaurants (including the ones above!) for less money and less effort. (However, if you go, get the muffin basket and buy their jam. It’s life-changing.)


That’s it from me! Expect more fun NYC posts coming this fall. Let me know your favorite brunch spots in the comments!

xoxo

08/14/17

GIRLS MADE OF SNOW AND GLASS by Melissa Bashardoust

I’ve never read a mother/daughter relationship quite like this one–it’s honest, true, and utterly beautiful. Girls Made of Snow and Glass is an incredibly story of discovering your potential, family, and love that I fell in love with.

20522640Novel: Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust | Goodreads
Release Date: September 5th, 2017
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Format: ARC
Source: BookExpo 2017

Frozen meets The Bloody Chamber in this feminist fantasy reimagining of the Snow White fairytale

At sixteen, Mina’s mother is dead, her magician father is vicious, and her silent heart has never beat with love for anyone—has never beat at all, in fact, but she’d always thought that fact normal. She never guessed that her father cut out her heart and replaced it with one of glass. When she moves to Whitespring Castle and sees its king for the first time, Mina forms a plan: win the king’s heart with her beauty, become queen, and finally know love. The only catch is that she’ll have to become a stepmother.

Fifteen-year-old Lynet looks just like her late mother, and one day she discovers why: a magician created her out of snow in the dead queen’s image, at her father’s order. But despite being the dead queen made flesh, Lynet would rather be like her fierce and regal stepmother, Mina. She gets her wish when her father makes Lynet queen of the southern territories, displacing Mina. Now Mina is starting to look at Lynet with something like hatred, and Lynet must decide what to do—and who to be—to win back the only mother she’s ever known…or else defeat her once and for all.

Entwining the stories of both Lynet and Mina in the past and present, Girls Made of Snow and Glass traces the relationship of two young women doomed to be rivals from the start. Only one can win all, while the other must lose everything—unless both can find a way to reshape themselves and their story.

So we all know how much I love a good fantasy, especially one that is all about girl power and family and character development. Those are the books that are my EVERYTHING and I adore reading them.

Well, guess what?

THIS BOOK IS ONE OF THOSE.

Basically, Girls Made of Snow and Glass focuses on the relationship between Mina and Lynet and how it changes with Lynet getting control of the South of the kingdom, a piece of land that Mina used to control. Mina, an incredibly complex character who made this book just SHINE, relishes the power that the South provides her, and feels threatened by Lynet.

This idea–power being threatened by another character–is the basis of many fantasy novels, but what makes this book unique is that this power struggle is between a step-mother and teenager daughter. Further complicating the circumstances is the fact that Mina is basically Lynet’s mother, since Lynet’s mother died during childbirth. I loved seeing how as the story goes on Mina and Lynet are forced to understand a different side of one another, something I can relate to. It’s the same kind of transformation you experience when you go to college or move out–exploring what a relationship with your parents as an adult is like. This new, very tenuous relationship, exposes secrets and one another’s true colors, and Mina and Lynet must decide how far they will each go for what they want.

Essentially this book is freaking awesome.

OKAY NOW I NEED TO TALK ABOUT MINA BECAUSE I LOVE HER. She is complex and flawed and makes horrible mistakes and yet you want her to be better. You want her to succeed and to understand that YES YOU CAN BE LOVED MINA DON’T GIVE UP LITTLE SNOWFLAKE. There’s this raw side of her that craves love just like anyone does, and then there’s this side of her that wants to be queen, and the dichotomy between the two is perfectly balanced.

Mina is a badass and I love her, as flawed as she is.

AND LYNET!!!!!!!

Lynet reminds me of this corgi gif:

She gains control of the South and then is like WOAH THERE which goes against what most fantasy heroines do and I LOVED IT.  She doesn’t know if she really wants to be princess or even queen, and she has to figure that out for herself. Lynet spends most of the book trying to figure out who she is–not who she is as her mother or her father’s daughter, but who she is as Lynet, something I think most people can relate to. Lynet’s story is one of self-discovery.

And then there’s the tiny TINY romance (it’s basically non-existent) which I loved. But it wasn’t the romance itself I loved, it was how insignificant of a part it played in the story. It’s not important to the story line at all, really, which is so uncommon in fantasy, especially when it’s female-centered and I just adored that. GIVE ME MORE BOOKS LIKE THIS PLZ.

here is me attacking the other books like this that must exist that i need to find:

SO MY THOUGHTS IN A NUTSHELL:

GO BUY THIS BOOK THE DAY IT COMES OUT IT WILL BLOW YOUR MIND #CONFIRMED


thanks for putting up with the corgi gifs i’m just really in a corgi mood right now

 

08/1/17

An Interview with Rebecca Phillips

Hey y’all! Welcome back to your regularly programmed content on Willa’s Ramblings. Today, I have a super exciting interview with the phenomenal Rebecca Phillips, author of THESE THINGS I’VE DONE!

And even more exciting: I’m blessed with the tour date that falls on the publication date!!!!!!!

excited gif

(aka go buy it now and put rebecca at the top of the NYTimes list pls and thx)

I read THESE THINGS I’VE DONE a couple weeks ago and fell absolutely in love. Rebecca is a stunning writer, and the story just comes alive on the page. I’m so excited for you all to read it and love it just as much as I do.

A contemporary YA perfect for fans of Courtney Summers and Jessi Kirby, THESE THINGS I’VE DONE is the story of a seventeen-year-old girl who accidentally caused her best friend’s death and, a year later, is still grappling with the consequences.

Before:
Dara and Aubrey have been inseparable since they became best friends in sixth grade. However, as they begin their sophomore year of high school, cracks in their friendship begin to form, testing the bond they always thought was unbreakable.

After:
It’s been fifteen months since the accident that killed Aubrey, and not a day goes by that Dara isn’t racked with guilt over her role in her best friend’s death. Dara thought nothing could be worse than confronting the memories of Aubrey that relentlessly haunt her, but she soon realizes it isn’t half as difficult as seeing Ethan, Aubrey’s brother, every day. Not just because he’s a walking reminder of what she did, but because the more her feelings for him change, the more she knows she’s betraying her best friend one final time.

And now, without further adieu, the interview! (I’m in the bold)

What was the inspiration for THESE THINGS I’VE DONE?

The inspiration for the main plot actually didn’t come from me. My friend Cara gave me the idea and I sort of ran with it. Aubrey was very loosely based on one of my daughter’s friends, and Ethan’s band was sort of modeled after a band my husband was in during high school. Dara’s dad was actually a tiny bit inspired by Coach Taylor from Friday Night Lights (!!!! Friday Night Lights!), which I was binge-watching as I wrote the first draft.

Friendship is a big theme in your novel. What inspired you to tackle this theme specifically?

I love YA books that have a heavy friendship theme. Relationships can be such a minefield in high school. Aubrey and Dara’s friendship started showing cracks when Aubrey fell in love with the boy Dara liked. It was interesting to explore this dynamic. I also loved showing the friendship between Dara and Ethan in the “past” chapters, and how all that history carried over into their present situation.

What are some friendship dynamics you think need to be discussed more?

Jealousy and insecurity are always interesting to get into while writing friendships. I also love to see friends who really have each other’s backs, through everything. The little routines and inside jokes between friends are fun to see too.

If you could go back to your childhood and change one thing, would you? What would you change?

That’s a tough question. There are a lot of things I wish had been different, or better, but I don’t think I’d go back and change anything. My childhood and all its joys and challenges brought me to the life I have now, which I wouldn’t change for the world.

If you could spend a day with Dara and Aubrey, what would you all go and what would you do?

We’d totally go to a Taylor Swift concert. Or we’d bake cookies in Dara’s kitchen.

This book is an emotional rollercoaster- what was the experience of writing it? How did you approach the emotionality of it?

Writing it was an emotional rollercoaster too. The subject matter was so disturbing for me that sometimes my first instinct was to keep the heavy emotions at arm’s length. But I knew I had to delve into them, so I did. Living in Dara’s head and putting myself in her place was difficult. She broke my heart often. Tapping into her guilt and grief was cathartic, in a way, but also really exhausting at times.

What has been something about the process of publishing your book that surprised you?

I was surprised at how little time I spent on submission. Two months! That’s short. (I hear my writer friends booing me as I type). Also, I’ve been traditionally published and gone through edits before, but the revisions for These Things I’ve Done were more intense than I was used to. In the end I was glad about that, because I think the book is so much better now.


Now that you all have fallen in love with Rebecca and THESE THINGS I’VE DONE go buy it and read it and fall in love!

(remember is came out today! go congratulate Rebecca over on Twitter!)

06/19/17

DAUGHTER OF THE BURNING CITY by Amanda Foody

 

A carnival-city? Murder mystery? A loyal girl with revenge in her heart? A battle between good and evil, real and fake? A little weird? WHAT MORE COULD YOU WANT?!

20522640Novel: Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody | Goodreads
Release Date: July 25th, 2017
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Format: ARC
Source: Book Expo America 2017

A darkly irresistible new fantasy set in the infamous Gomorrah Festival, a traveling carnival of debauchery that caters to the strangest of dreams and desires.

Sixteen-year-old Sorina has spent most of her life within the smoldering borders of the Gomorrah Festival. Yet even among the many unusual members of the traveling circus-city, Sorina stands apart as the only illusion-worker born in hundreds of years. This rare talent allows her to create illusions that others can see, feel and touch, with personalities all their own. Her creations are her family, and together they make up the cast of the Festival’s Freak Show.

But no matter how lifelike they may seem, her illusions are still just that—illusions, and not truly real. Or so she always believed…until one of them is murdered.

Desperate to protect her family, Sorina must track down the culprit and determine how they killed a person who doesn’t actually exist. Her search for answers leads her to the self-proclaimed gossip-worker Luca, and their investigation sends them through a haze of political turmoil and forbidden romance, and into the most sinister corners of the Festival. But as the killer continues murdering Sorina’s illusions one by one, she must unravel the horrifying truth before all of her loved ones disappear.

At this point, you guys probably know how much I love fantasy. Like. I love it a lot. It’s become my little escape genre in recent years, overtaking contemporary as my go-to genre. (Besides, historical fiction, though–but historical just isn’t popular enough to sustain me, much to my dismay.)

SO!

Daughter of the Burning City was one of the few fantasy titles I picked up at BEA. (There just wasn’t that much there that piqued my interest, sadly.) I didn’t even know about it going into the day, but walked past the booth and saw the line wrapping around the corner and thought it would be worth my time to check out. And oh BOY was I rewarded!

This book is incredible.

Here’s how I pitched it to Aneeqah (because I pitch everything to Aneeqah in feel-y texts after reading):

  • a strong focus on family
  • super well-built world that doesn’t do that “let me explain everything to you blatantly like you’re stupid” thing
  • CRAZY cool concept i’m still struggling to get my head around
  • kick-butt main character who is super flawed
  • a tiny bit of romance
  • constantly throwing you for loops
  • a murder mystery! magic! intrigue!
  • people in cool clothes

I mean what more do you need in a book?

But in all seriousness, this book just blew me away a bit. And I think its because the writing didn’t jump off the page at me screaming HEY THIS IS GOING TO BE AMAZING!!!!!! Instead, I was drawn into the story because of how creative and interesting it was, and then I was quickly sucked in because of my attachment to the main character. Foody’s writing strikes a beautiful balance between stunning prose and an intricately woven story that you can’t help but what to keep reading.

And then there are these characters! Sorina is my heart. I relate to her in so many ways, as do I think a lot of people. That feeling of being an outsider, of craving the kind of family you hear and dream about, of wanting a happily-ever-after but not knowing if it will happen–she’s many of the teenagers I know and definitely the teenager I am. I was drawn to her by fierce loyalty to her family and how she battles to understand the difference between good and bad (a theme I adore in fantasy). Gomorrah is the perfect setting for a good vs. bad kind of story, and Foody executes it with precision.

Luca. My little Luca. He has a sliver of my heart with his weird clothes and gossip and unjudgemental approach to life. He is such a wonderful addition to the story and couldn’t imagine the book without his presence. I want to hang out with a Luca some day, please.

Although please don’t let him do his Gomorrah act in front of me. Please.

In conclusion, this book is a MUST BUY for fantasy lovers. A carnival-city? Murder mystery? A loyal girl with revenge in her heart? A battle between good and evil, real and fake? A little weird?

WHAT MORE COULD YOU WANT?!

 

06/12/17

The Sounds of Freshman Year

Helloooo my lovely friends! I’m back with a post all about what I’ve been jamming out to lately. I haven’t shared my music tastes in a while and I thought it was about time.

This year my tastes have shifted a bit. I’m still into the same general genres (basically everything except heavy metal) but I have found myself listening more to certain genres than I did before coming to college. Why, you may ask? My roommate and I had incredibly similar music tastes, but she listens to more electronic and upbeat music than I usually do, so she turned me on to a bunch of new stuff. Basically, I learned that I really like electronic music and remixes.

I also found myself listening to the same music over and over and over again until I literally couldn’t listen to it anymore, so this list is pretty much my freshman year in a playlist.

Some highlights:

  • LANY (i’m in love with this band)
  • HONNE (s/o to my friend maya who turned me on to them)
  • “waves” by Miguel, remixed by Tame Impala (surprisingly amazing)
  • “All in Love” by The Tallest Man on Earth
  • “Number One” by Tove Styrke (s/o to the Riverdale soundtrack)
  • all the blackbear (aka i’m in love with blackbear!!!!!)

I feel like I’m half a basic college student and half cool and edgy when it comes to my music tastes.

Actually, scratch that.

I’m totally a basic college student. Not cool and edgy at all.

Enjoy!

(also: got a request for a post? send ’em my way!)