Surviving Those Manic Mondays with Mamma Chia (GIVEAWAY)

Mondays are classically the worst day of the week. This semester my Mondays are especially tedious – I leave home before most people in my house are awake, and I arrive home when everybody is getting ready to sleep. Keeping my energy levels up and not crashing during these sort of days is a challenge. I do my best to avoid the allure of vending machine snacks, but the best way to keep from temptation is keeping an alternative snack on hand. My favorite is the Mamma Chia squeeze pouches. I’ve been buying them, along with the chia beverages, for ages and found out that they’ve recently added some exciting new options to their lineup.

Mamma Chia Coconut Mango

The chia squeeze comes in 6 different flavors, of course I have my hardcore favorites. Each pouch contains omega-3s, protein, and fiber. Available flavors include: Blackberry Bliss, Cherry Beet, Green Magic, Mango Coconut, Strawberry Banana, and Wild Raspberry. Of the six, my favorites are Cherry Beet, Mango Coconut, and Strawberry Banana. The Cherry Beet one is insanely good, I wish my local BJs stocked this flavor because I would just buy boxes and boxes of this one. The great thing is that the Mamma Chia squeeze does not require refrigeration, and tastes just as good cold or room temperature. This means that I can enjoy it at the start of my day all the way to on the commute home at the end of my day!

Mamma Chia Chia Squeeze TargetChia Squeeze

I was not familiar with Mamma Chia’s new granola clusters until recently and I was so excited when I found out. I feel like I’ve been on a ton of health blogs, vlogs, and instagrams that feature yogurt as a breakfast. But personally, I cannot just have a yogurt and a couple of berries or I end up feeling completely unsatisfied. I need the texture and chewing, so I often turn to chia, granola, or flax seed. Mamma Chia’s granola clusters offer more flavorful options like Wild Blueberry Clusters, Vanilla Almond Clusters, Cinnamon Pecan Clusters, and Honey & Oats Clusters. Each serving is choc-full of omega-3s and 10g of soy and dairy free protein. My favorite? It’s a tie between the Wild Blueberry Clusters and the Cinnamon Pecan Clusters for sure.

Mamma Chia at TargetMamma Chia Granola

I have long been a massive fan of the Mamma Chia Organic Vitality Beverages. I will literally talk about them to anyone who will listen. I get questions about them all the time. Basically, the big deal is that in each bottle you get 4g of protein, 95mg of calcium, 25% of your dietary fiber, and your entire days worth of Omega-3s (2500mg). Some days are so busy or stressful that I can’t sit down to eat an entire meal, so I’m always glad when I have one of these drinks on hand. They don’t necessarily make me feel really full, but they definitely pick me up and help me make sure that I’m not running on empty. They come in these flavors: Blackberry Hibiscus, Cherry Lime, Coconut Mango, Cranberry Lemonade, Guava Mamma, Raspberry Passion, and Strawberry Lemonade. I don’t even have a favorite here, they’re all good. But if I had to choose… I’d say Coconut Mango. It’s so refreshing and not overly sweet.

Mamma Chia Coconut DrinkBack to School with Mamma Chia

Mamma Chia have also released new Organic Chia Seed Energy drinks. In the flavors Blackberry Blast, Cherry Charge, Grape Power, and Raspberry Razz, these buzzing beverages not only off the same 2500mg of Omega-3s as the regular chia drink, but also 95mg of caffeine (about as much caffeine as a cup of coffee), as well as fiber and protein. If you click through the product details on the Mamma Chia website, you can score a $0.55 off coupon and give these a try!

Mamma Chia have been kind enough to offer The NYC Talon readers a chance to win a prize package of Mamma Chia products to try at home! Enter to win:

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Mamma Chia Back to School Giveaway

*Product was sent to me to facilitate this feature, no other compensation was provided. Opinions are my own.*

How to Actually Save Money on Textbooks this Semester

I can’t believe it’s time to head back to school already! To be fair, I’ve been wishing it was the fall all summer. I am not a big fan of sweltering heat, and the city has this great way of making you feel like you’re stuck in a crockpot with the lid on. I was literally melting this Monday during the eclipse, everyone was out in full force and the city was experiencing a heat wave in the triple digits. Google hosted an eclipse viewing party that I was lucky enough to be invited to, so I abandoned my air conditioning for charcoal ice cream, viewing glasses, and picnic blankets at the 14th street park. It was a pretty interesting experience, I imagine those in totality had a much more dramatic viewing. Anyways, this all has nothing to do with textbooks except to say that back to school means back to purchasing a large number of expensive textbooks for class! Hooray! Not. As it happens, I am entering my last semester before graduation (so much excitement) and thought I’d share a few tips for saving money on textbooks that I’ve picked up along the way.

how to save money on college textbooks

Rent Your Textbook

Renting your textbook tends to be much, much cheaper than purchasing it. However, there are some pros and cons to consider.

Pros: Renting is cheaper, which means more money for food, Starbucks, weekend adventures, etc. If you’re a responsible person who does not have food-related accidents when studying, doesn’t lose things, and takes good care of books then this might be a great option for you. I rented an Italian textbook for about $36 for three months, a used version of the textbook would have cost me around $435. It was well worth it since we had to bring the book to class every meeting and there was only one copy in the library that had limited availability.

Cons: You have to be sure that you are renting from a reliable source. Even then I recommend photographing the book when you receive it, and the book when you send it back. Most rental agreements have strict guidelines, so if you and your pricey rental get stuck out in the rain you can easily end up having to pay the top price for that book. Also, you can face a hefty surcharge if you don’t return your book in time – read all the fine print and set up a reminder on your phone so you get your book shipped back and in good time.

how to save money on college textbooks this semester

Books with E-Text & Course Software

If you’ve been in college for more than one semester you have probably heard of Pearson MyLab, e-text, MyPearson, etc. Instructors will often ask that you purchase a textbook that comes with access to Pearson or a similar online platform where you will participate in some coursework. Buying a used textbook can be inexpensive, but buying the textbook with access to the platform can be very pricey. There’s no getting around needing access to the platform, as it’s often a strict requirement. Here’s how I’ve saved money on these before:

First you must have your course ID/code. Once you log-in to Pearson using your student email you can locate your school, course, and class code. You can purchase access to the course, or to the course and e-textbook – which is a ebook version of the required class textbook. I don’t recommend doing the latter unless you really need to, I bought access to the ebook for a science class and never even opened it. You have to be logged onto the platform to use it, so it isn’t like you can access it on your kindle or cellphone during class. Your best bet it buying access to the course, then purchasing a used textbook (if required by your instructor) or borrowing the book from the school library.

how to save money on college textbooks this semester

Free College Textbooks? Raid the School Library.

Chances are the school library – especially at SUNY and CUNY schools – is holding multiple copies of your course textbooks. Often the school will require instructors to submit a listing of required reading for their classes, then the school will purchase or source copies of that material to be made available to the student body during the semester. Borrowing is usually limited to a few hours or a day or two. But that’s fine because that’s all you’ll need. Set aside a day at the beginning of the semester and copy out the material you’ll need for your classes. Start by highlighting the readings in your syllabus, and copying those sections out. Many schools now have copying stations that allow you to save your copies as a PDF rather than printing it all out at once. If you prefer to have a hard copy, or if your instructor prefers it, head to a local Staples or printing center to get your copies bound. It usually costs anywhere from $2-5 depending on how many pages you’ve got, which is still a small cost compared to purchasing the textbook.

how to save money on college textbooks this semester

Ask a Friend

I learned quickly that asking around on the first day of class is a great way to pick up great tips and tricks for getting through the semester. I had a communications course where, when waiting for the professor to arrive, other students divulged that the $178 textbook was made available for free online by the publisher. Sites like RateMyProfessor allow former students to let you know whether the instructor uses required course material at all. In other cases, you’ll find the student bookstore will (surprisingly) offer better prices than the lowest price found online. I’ve even given my textbooks to classmates when I found out that they registered for a course I already took.

how to save money on college textbooks this semester

Consult School Bulletin Boards

Pretty old school, but people still post advertisements on school bulletin boards. You’ll find everything from employment opportunities, internships, tutoring, events, school club ads, and textbook offers. Also look around on Facebook for student groups, where people occasionally sell their textbooks and tutoring services too.

how to save money on college textbooks this semester

Shop Smart

I was introduced to DealOz by my older sister, and I use the site for everything from buying DVDs (yes, I still buy them on occasion) to buying course textbooks and the books I read for fun (shameless plug for my Goodreads account). Here’s a step-by-step way to save money when buying textbooks online:

1. Verify the ISBN number on your syllabus, especially if you’re not allowed older and/or international editions. If you are allowed those, then look for them as they are often cheaper.
2. Plug in the ISBN on DealOz, which will find the best price for New, Used, e-books, International Editions, and Rental textbooks.

dealoz1
3. Locate the cheapest book, and open up the link. DealOz now has its own cash back rewards program, which you can sign up prior to shopping OR you can use an alternative one…
4. Once you’ve added your textbook to your cart, open a new tab and search for the rewards program of choice. My two favorites are ShopAtHome and Ebates (affiliate link). You just search the store you plan on buying your book from and click “Shop Now” when you find it.

ebates abebooks textbooks

Shop At Home and Ebates do not always carry the store you are looking for, nor do they always carry the same stores – just something to keep in mind when comparing cash back percentages. Either a new tab or window will open taking you to the website, where your textbook should still be waiting in the cart. Check out as you would normally. Ebates and Shop At Home will send users an email once the order has gone through and the cash back has been credited to your account.

In case you’re wondering if it works, here’s the cash back that I’ve received (actual checks, yes) in the few years that I’ve used the service:

shopathome cash back

If you’re taking an English course you might have received a syllabus with a plethora of course texts. They can often be books that don’t fall into the realm of “textbooks”, we’re talking novels and paperbacks here. Here’s an ebay hack for getting the best price – and remember to go through ebates or shopathome before checking out!

1. Search for your book(s) on DealOz, if ebay has the cheapest or close to the cheapest sellers, open the down (+) menu. Open up each “Buy Now” link in individual tabs.

how to save on books on ebaypart2
2. Review each tab, each listing for that book on ebay (there is usually between 4-5, and should take no more than a minute to do this). Look for the listing that features a promotion such as “Buy 3, get 1 free” or “Buy 2, get 20% off”.
3. When you find the listings attached to promotions, add them to your cart. This may result in having multiple versions of the same book, from different sellers in your cart. Do NOT check out yet.

ebay promotions books
4. Repeat this action for the rest of the books on your purchase list.
5. When you’ve found all the books, with promotions, and added them to your cart, open your cart up.
6. Ebay splits your cart into sellers, and when it comes to books there are some larger book sellers (often tied to some goodwill industry or another) that offer a variety of promotions. You’ll notice that the books you added individually have now been split up into sellers and promotions. You can immediately tell if you have qualified for any promotion, as there will be a check mark and a notice. You’ll then want to use the process of elimination to find the best deals for you – being careful not to purchase the same book twice.

shopping online for books
7. Once you’ve organized your cart, bundling up your books to get the best price (and often free shipping too), go back to your rewards site (ebates or shopathome), search for ebay and click “Shop Now”. When you’re taken back to the ebay website, click on your cart, and check out individually for each seller.

Tah-dah! It took a little bit of leg work, but if you’ve worked through this process then you not only found the cheapest price for a book, you then saved money with a promotion, and then also earned a little cash back! I recently bought 5 books from one seller for $12, with free shipping AND I earned a few cents cash back. I would have paid at least $10 more if I hadn’t bundled them up on the promo, and much more than that had I not used DealOz and purchased them at the school bookstore instead.

how to save money on college textbooks this semester

Have any of these worked for you? What are your favorite ways to save during the school year? Let me know in the comments below!

 

NYC’s L.A. Burdick Handmade Chocolates

Best Gifts in NYC

I recently was dismayed to discover that one of my favorite chocolate shops, Xocolatti, had closed down their brick and mortar and moved their location strictly online. The joys of having a local chocolatier often include being able to view the chocolates in person, question a shop keeper about their contents and flavors, and occasionally sample the chocolates before committing to a purchase. Storefronts are also a way to connect customers to the chocolatiers personal vision and style, is the product innovative? Is a boutique chocolate shop with only extremely dark chocolates or something more down-home and decadent? You tend to get an impression of what kind of chocolates you’re in for when you walk in. Support your local chocolatier folks! Who knows how long they’ll be around for.

Chocolate Shops in NYC

While Shaineal Shah’s Xocolatti has vacated their Prince St premises, another chocolate shop has since made SoHo their home. L.A. Burdick, whose Flatiron location was one of my favorite shops, relocated last year to 156 Prince St.

SoHo Chocolate StoreBest Hot Cocoa in NYC

The location, much like their Flatiron one, is adorable – wood shelving, tables, benches, warm tones, sconces, striped wallpaper, and framed photos of cocoa pods. I can already see myself meeting up for cocoa here during the winter and their frozen hot chocolate during the summer.

L.A. Burdick Chocolates in ManhattanChocolate Gifts in New York City

You can sit down for coffee, cocoa, and instagramable cappuccinos or grab boxes of their chocolate for on-the-go gifting. I recommend trying one or two of their petite desserts. The options aren’t overwhelming, but prepare your sweet tooth – chocolate lovers will rejoice over their raspberry chocolate cake.

Best Chocolate Desserts in NYC

L.A. Burdick chocolates are small but intense, their flavors pronounced but, again, not overwhelming. They’re really something special.

Boutique Chocolatier in NYCChocolate Wedding Favors

Every year my sister requests a medium sized box of L.A. Burdick chocolates for Christmas. I love how they come in a cute wooden box, sealed with a ribbon and a wax seal. The shop ladies are always so kind and wrap up the gift in tissue paper and extra ribbon, and the chocolates are always gone by New Years Eve.

Best Chocolates in NYC

Right now L.A. Burdick have partnered with The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, a charitable organization in Kenya known for their orphan-elephant rescue and rehabilitation program. 100% of net proceeds from these handmade chocolate elephants will be donated to the trust. Frankly, I can’t think of a better excuse to eat chocolate! The milk chocolate elephant contains dark chocolate ganache infused with fresh mint leaves – leave everything you know about mint chocolates behind, the mint in this chocolate is unexpectedly fresh and exciting. The dark chocolate elephant contains passion fruit and Amarula cream liqueur dark chocolate ganache. So good. Elephants will not be available in November and December, so snap them up while you can!

L.A. Burdick Chocolate ElephantsChocolates for Charity

In terms of high end or low end, L.A. Burdick chocolates – while on the more expensive end of the scale – are not pretentious. You get what you pay for, which is excellent quality, flavor, style, and design. Their chocolate is excellent chocolate, you don’t need to know what percentage of cocoa content you prefer to pick out a good piece. Bring your cocoa snobs and your Hershey loving friends here, I can’t imagine anyone not enjoying L.A. Burdick’s sweet treats.

L.A. Burdick Handmade Chocolates
156 Prince St
New York, NY 10012
(212) 796-0143

https://www.burdickchocolate.com/

Riverpark Luncheon with Alison Sweeney and Arm & Hammer

When you’ve lived your entire life in one place, you begin to think you know it by heart. All its nooks and crannies, the best places for brunch, dinner, for taking a leisurely walk on Saturday afternoon. So naturally I was beyond surprised when I was invited down to the famed Riverpark restaurant for a farm-to-table luncheon hosted by Arm & Hammer and Alison Sweeney. I had no idea that the restaurant was home to a flourishing urban farm, amazing food, and breathtaking city views!

Riverpark Restaurant NYCArm & Hammer with Alison Sweeney

Farmer Sam and Alison (every time I see her I have to pinch myself, I spent so many years coming home from school to watch Alison as Days of Our Lives’ Sami Brady!) gave us the grand tour. Alison reflected on the importance of clean and authentic ingredients – from the plate to our toothpaste. Alison has partnered with Arm & Hammer for many years, she pointed out how with Arm & Hammer you can always tell it’s working because you can feel it.

Alison Sweeney Arm & Hammer Riverpark EventArm & Hammer Riverpark Event

Farmer Sam, who showed us around, shared that maintaining a garden comes with its own set of complications. The garden is rested on unfilled milk crates, which give it it’s mobility. That means in case of a storm or unpredictable weather, the garden can be transported in doors. The produce from the garden, naturally, end up on the plates served at Riverpark.

Riverpark Restaurant Urban Farm Edible FlowersRiverpark BasilEdible Flowers Urban Farm NYC

Riverpark, owned by Tom Colicchio, presented us with a lovely lunch designed and prepared by Executive Chef Andrew Smith. We started off with burrata served with heirloom tomatoes, stone fruit, charred breadcrumbs and basil. Riverparks urban farm boasts numerous varieties of basil, their fragrance sweetening the air outside the restaurant while adding fresh flavor to the dishes served inside.

Arm & Hammer Event NYCRiverpark BurrataRiverpark Basil Urban Farm

Did you know that cheese neutralizes acid and aids in preserving tooth enamel? As if I needed any more reason to eat more cheese! Meanwhile, stone fruit contains high levels of vitamin C, which is vital for gum tissue health. I’ve never had stone fruit with burrata and I absolutely loved the combination. The sweet fruit brought out the sun-warmed sweetness of the heirloom tomatoes and the creaminess of the burrata.

Riverpark Salmon

I chose the salmon as my main course, I once read that a restaurant that can cook salmon without drying it out is a good restaurant indeed. Riverpark’s salmon – served with heirloom peppers, zucchini, crispy fingerling potatoes, and rosemary – was perfectly cooked, as if it had been done sous vide. Salmon, a great source of vitamin D, also helps with calcium absorption.

Summer Fruit Trifle

Our lunch was ended on a sweet note with a Summer Fruit Trifle. Strawberries, blueberries, lemon verbena whipped cream, chiffon cake, and a pistachio sacristan rounded out my ideal summer dessert.

Thank you to the Arm & Hammer team for a lovely lunch!

Top 15 Summer Beach Reads

Top 15 Summer Reads

From a gripping and suspenseful mystery to a breezy contemporary romance – grab a great book and get reading this summer! Here are my recommendations:

The Waking Land by Callie Bates – June 27th

The Waking Land by Callie Bates

If you loved Naomi Novik’s Uprooted (I did!), then you’re definitely going to want to check out this magical new story by Callie Bates:

Lady Elanna is fiercely devoted to the king who raised her like a daughter. But when he dies under mysterious circumstances, Elanna is accused of his murder—and must flee for her life.

Returning to the homeland of magical legends she has forsaken, Elanna is forced to reckon with her despised, estranged father, branded a traitor long ago. Feeling a strange, deep connection to the natural world, she also must face the truth about the forces she has always denied or disdained as superstition—powers that suddenly stir within her.

But an all-too-human threat is drawing near, determined to exact vengeance. Now Elanna has no choice but to lead a rebellion against the kingdom to which she once gave her allegiance. Trapped between divided loyalties, she must summon the courage to confront a destiny that could tear her apart.

Read more here.

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

I love this book so, so much. You want an ideal beach read? This is the book you are looking for.

Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman hate each other. Not dislike. Not begrudgingly tolerate. Hate. And they have no problem displaying their feelings through a series of ritualistic passive aggressive maneuvers as they sit across from each other, executive assistants to co-CEOs of a publishing company. Lucy can’t understand Joshua’s joyless, uptight, meticulous approach to his job. Joshua is clearly baffled by Lucy’s overly bright clothes, quirkiness, and Pollyanna attitude.

Now up for the same promotion, their battle of wills has come to a head and Lucy refuses to back down when their latest game could cost her her dream job…But the tension between Lucy and Joshua has also reached its boiling point, and Lucy is discovering that maybe she doesn’t hate Joshua. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.

Read more here.

Dating You/Hating You by Christina Lauren

Dating You Hating You by Christina Lauren

Ever since I read The Hating Game by Sally Thorne I’ve developed a warm appreciation for love/hate contemporary fiction. Although, to be fair, Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice is where I really got hooked. In this new novel by Christina Lauren, Carter and Evie – agents at two competing firms in Hollywood – hit things off at a Holloween Party. But when their firms merge and they end up vying for the same position, all bets are off and their romance turns into an all-out war of sabotage.

Whether these two Hollywood love-hatebirds get the storybook Hollywood ending or just a dramedy of epic proportions, readers will get to enjoy Christina Lauren’s heartfelt, raucous, and hilarious romance style at its finest.

Read more here.

The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy – July 4th

The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy

Looking for a YA fantasy/mystery? Keep an eye out for Emily Bain Murphy’s debut novel, The Disappearances!

Aila Quinn’s mother, Juliet, has always been a mystery: vibrant yet guarded, she keeps her secrets beyond Aila’s reach. When Juliet dies, Aila and her younger brother Miles are sent to live in Sterling, a rural town far from home–and the place where Juliet grew up.

Sterling is a place with mysteries of its own. A place where the experiences that weave life together–scents of flowers and food, reflections from mirrors and lakes, even the ability to dream–vanish every seven years.

No one knows what caused these “Disappearances,” or what will slip away next. But Sterling always suspected that Juliet Quinn was somehow responsible–and Aila must bear the brunt of their blame while she follows the chain of literary clues her mother left behind. 

As the next Disappearance nears, Aila begins to unravel the dual mystery of why the Disappearances happen and who her mother truly was. One thing is clear: Sterling isn’t going to hold on to anyone’s secrets for long before it starts giving them up.

Read more here.

Wilde Like Me by Louise Pentland – June 29th

Wilde Like Me by Louise Pentland

Written by YouTube lifestyle personality, Louise Pentland, Wilde Like Me promises to be as lovable and candid as the woman herself.

Single mum Robin Wilde adores her six-year-old daughter and loves her job as a make up artist’s assistant. She has a wonderful best friend and an auntie who is bonkers, yes, but loves her to the moon and back.

But Robin has a secret. Behind the mask she carefully applies every day, things just feel … grey. And lonely. She struggles to fit in with the school mum crew. Online dating is totally despair-inducing, and she worries every day about raising her little girl with self-confidence, courage and joy.

What Robin longs for is someone (over the age of six) to share with – someone who’s always on her team.

After 4 years (2 months, and 15 days!) of single-mum-dom, it’s time for Robin Wilde to Change. Her. Life.

Exciting new opportunities are about to come Robin’s way … Perhaps a man, perhaps the chance of a lifetime …

What will Robin do with the possibilities she creates for herself? And what potential will she unlock if she takes the leap?

Read more here.

Sparks of Light by Janet B. Taylor – August 1st

Sparks of Life

The sequel to one of my favorite reads of last year (which was blurbed by Outlander’s Diana Gabaldon herself), Sparks of Light continues the adventure where Into the Dim left us avid readers:

For the first time in her life, Hope Walton has friends, a (maybe) boyfriend, and she’s a Viator, a member of a long line of time-traveling ancestors. When the Viators learn of a plot to steal a dangerous device from the inventor Nikola Tesla, only a race into the past can save the natural timeline from utter destruction. Navigating the often-treacherous glitterati of 1895 New York City, Hope and her crew discover that among high society, the Gilded Age is as deadly as it is beautiful.

Read more here.

The Girl Before: A Novel by JP Delaney

The Girl Before by JP Delaney

If you like to spend your idle sunbathing hours with a suspenseful thriller (or if you really liked Gone Girl), then you’re going to love The Girl Before by JP Delaney.

Jane stumbles on the rental opportunity of a lifetime: the chance to live in a beautiful ultra-minimalist house designed by an enigmatic architect, on condition she abides by a long list of exacting rules. After moving in, she discovers that a previous tenant, Emma, met a mysterious death there – and starts to wonder if her own story will be a re-run of the girl before.

P.S. This book is slated to become a major motion picture directed by Ron Howard, so read it before it hits theaters!

Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennet

Alex Approximately by Jenn Bennett

Young adult readers will love this charming “teen spin on You’ve Got Mail”:

Classic movie buff Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online by “Alex.” Two coasts separate the teens until Bailey moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.

Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep in real life—or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist-trap museum. Or that she’s being heckled daily by the irritatingly hot museum security guard, Porter Roth—a.k.a. her new arch-nemesis. But life is whole lot messier than the movies, especially when Bailey discovers that tricky fine line between hate, love, and whatever-it-is she’s starting to feel for Porter.

Read more here.

The Jane Austen Project by Kathleen A. Flynn

The Jane Austen Project by Kathleen A Flynn

An unusual twist on the legacy of one of the world’s most celebrated and beloved authors: researchers Rachel and Liam are sent back in time from the future, they aren’t the first team of time travelers, but their mission is the most audacious yet: meet, befriend, and steal from Jane Austen.

Another debut novel, this time by New York Times writer Kathleen Flynn, The Jane Austen Project should be at the top of any fiction-loving Austen fan’s summer reading list. Heck, even if you’ve never rubbed elbows with Fitzwilliam Darcy or Elizabeth Bennet, the premise of this novel is sure to capture the attention of all readers.

Read more about the novel here, also take a peak at this great NYT article on publishing by the author here.

The Daughters of Ireland by Santa Montefiore

The Daughters of Ireland by Santa Montefiore

I couldn’t do a beach read round-up without including a proper historical romance. Also one of my closest friends is a massive fan of Santa Montefiore and her Deverill Chronicles trilogy and insisted that I include it. Pick up the first book, The Girl in the Castle, and then dive into the second. Read all about The Daughters of Ireland here.

Once and For All by Sarah Dessen

Once and for All by Sarah Dessen

I distinctly remember swapping Sarah Dessen books with my best friend in high school. When I should have been digging into my Italian homework, I snuck into Dessen’s contemporary confections where characters lived sometimes dramatic but otherwise quite simple lives. As a city girl I found so much solace in the novelty of her stories. Now Dessen is back again, this time with Once and for All which promises the humor, romance, and happily ever after that we can’t help but love.

Is it really better to have loved and lost?  Louna’s summer job is to help brides plan their perfect day, even though she stopped believing in happily-ever-after when her first love ended tragically.  But charming girl-magnet Ambrose isn’t about to be discouraged now that he’s met the one he really  wants.  Maybe Louna’s second chance is standing right in front of her.

Read more here.

Hello, Sunshine by Laura Dave – July 11th

Hello Sunshine by Laura Dave

Author of Eight Hundred Grapes, Laura Dave is back with Hello, Sunshine:

Sunshine Mackenzie has it all…until her secrets come to light.

Sunshine Mackenzie is living the dream—she’s a culinary star with millions of fans, a line of #1 bestselling cookbooks, and a devoted husband happy to support her every endeavor.

And then she gets hacked.

When Sunshine’s secrets are revealed, her fall from grace is catastrophic. She loses the husband, her show, the fans, and her apartment. She’s forced to return to the childhood home—and the estranged sister—she’s tried hard to forget. But what Sunshine does amid the ashes of her own destruction may well save her life.

This summer read hits shelves on July 11th, read more here.

The Whole Thing Together by Ann Brashares

The Whole Thing Together by Ann Brashares

The choices we make come back to haunt us; the effect on our destinies ripples out of our control…or does it? This summer, the lives of Sasha, Ray, and their siblings intersect in ways none of them ever dreamed, in a novel about family relationships, keeping secrets, and most of all, love.

I do not recommend reading the Goodreads reviews on this book. The reviews are generally polarizing – some love it, some hate it. I do recommend downloading a sample before you purchase the book, borrowing it from the library, or browsing through a few pages before you buy it at the bookstore. Ann Brashares, the mind behind The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, has a specific writing style that people tend to really love or really not-love. I love her writing, and I hope you will too.

Read more here.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart – Deluxe Edition

We Were Liars by E Lockhart

A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

Intrigued yet? Released back in 2014, this fun and suspenseful read has been reprinted with loads of new extras including the author’s hand-drawn map of Beechwood Island along with the Sinclair family tree, a behind-the-scenes look at the author’s creative process, and more!

All the details on the deluxe edition can be found here.

The Three Keys series by Dana Alexander

Dana Alexander Series

Technically this is a series and shouldn’t count as a single book, but I’m a rule breaking rebel (not really) and included all three anyways. Toted as Lara Croft meets Lord of the Rings style fantasy/romance series, The Three Keys series is a tale of love that transcends time. The blurb for the books actually reminds me a bit of the Kendra Saunders/Hawkgirl storyline from The Flash series.

The balance between good and evil has been shattered, opening a path for a dark lord’s demons and shadows to consume the energy found in humanity.  To New York psychiatrist Dr. Sara Forrester, these nightmares become more than figments of a troubled mind when a powerful entity known as the Soltari calls Sara to duty as their only hope to retrieve three ancient keys hidden thousands of years earlier. But to find the keys she must unlock the gateway to each of them by way of three secret medallions.  As part of Sara’s existence in this life, the alliance that governs the equilibrium between good and evil has blocked her memory from the many past lives she’s lived and the power she holds in order for her to establish a relatively ordinary life on earth.

The last great warrior hasn’t forgotten the love he’s vowed to protect across time and space.  He’s come to earth under the guise of a physician and colleague on an oath to the Soltari not to remind Sara of their past lives together when the mission is engaged.  In guarding every facet of the quest, the Alliance couldn’t risk a love that transcends time to interfere with the task to rescue billions of lives and put a halt to earth remaining as an intended place of human development.  There is no room for distraction where life-threatening decisions need to be made.  If Sara fails the mission, not only will the quest to save lives be lost but so too will the eternal bond of two souls linked for countless millenia.

I’m currently working my way through this series, so count on a more thorough review soon.

What books do you plan on reading this summer?

Back Again: Ristorante Morini

Recently my sister and I re-visted a favorite brunch spot. We hadn’t been there in a while, but our prior experiences had been so fantastic that we consistently recommended it to our family and friends. Social media famous, the restaurant has no trouble bringing in a steady stream of customers. When we returned we found that while the service was as friendly as ever, the food had taken a nosedive. The prices had gone up, and it was clear that the establishment had cut corners on the meal in order to save time and money. When half your meal consists of inedible chips, you know it’s time to move on to greener pastures. It was disappointing to have to remove this once-beloved spot from our list of recommended brunch spots. The best places, I find, are the most consistent not only in great food and service, but also over time. Ristorante Morini is one such place.

Ristorante Morini Chicken Eggplant Meatballs

My sister (perpetual lunch, brunch, and dinner companion) and I returned to Ristorante Morini in March after not having been for almost a year. Unlike my ill-fated brunch spot, Altamarea Group’s Ristorante Morini, did not cut corners over time. The menu is varied and the offers are exciting. I could spot a couple of old favorites (like those insane Bocconcini – chicken eggplant meatballs) as well as more than a few new menu items that I was dying to try.

Ristorante Morini Burrata Salad

To start we had the Burrata salad – creamy mozzarella, car acara orange, mache salad, and a toasted baguette. I love burrata, and the tartness of the cara cara orange and balsalmic reduction cut through the creamy mozzarella in the most delightful way.

Ristorante Morini Pasta NYC

My sister had Spagetti Vongole, a comforting pasta studded with manila clams and baby leeks. I had the Hanger Steak – grilled hanger steak with broccoli rabe and salsa verde. The entire dish was so good, I was tempted to lick the plate.

Ristorante Morini Hanger SteakBest Lunch Spots in NYC

A newer addition on the Ristorante Morini menu, the Semifreddo, was the dessert that surprised me the most. The dessert is a white chocolate semifreddo dome, complete with cashews, blackberries, and tiny mint leaves. I was immediately taken by the dessert mostly because I couldn’t stop eating it – it has great textures and flavors, but I really liked that it felt understated, it was a simple dessert that didn’t overwhelm the meal.

Ristorante Morini NYC

We also had the Torta Di Cioccolata (dark chocolate mousse, chantilly cream, and hazelnut gelato), which is another testament to what a great restaurant RM is. Last time I was here the same menu item looked completely different, and while the structure of the dessert has changed all the flavors are still here. In fact, I quite like how they changed it. This time, instead of being served in a bowl, the torta was served like a tiny cake. It was a perfect chocolate dessert.

Ristorante Morini Torta di Cioccolata

We also had the Torta Di Olio, which the fantastic waitress recommended to me. I’m not entirely certain if it’s a newer menu addition, but it was a first for me. The Torta Di Olio is an olive oil cake, with ricotta mousse, raspberries, rhubarb, served with pistachio gelato. My favorite flavors are tart and sweet, so this was right up my block, and it might just be my favorite dessert. Everything about it was perfect, from the meringue shards as garnish to the moiste cake and lemony curd. I wish I had one right now!

Torta di Olio Ristorante Morini

The staff at Ristorante Morini were absolutely kind, never hovering but always available. I cannot recommend this spot enough if you’re looking for a great brunch, lunch, or dinner. Their prices are fair, and the prixe-fix menu is definitely a deal. Most encouragingly, you can rely on Ristorante Morini for a great dining experience, every time.

Ristorante Morini
1167 Madison Ave
New York, NY 10028
(212) 249-0444

http://ristorantemorini.com

Review: Amélie on Broadway

*I received complimentary tickets in order to facilitate this review. Photos seen here all belong to the show. Opinions, as always, belong to me. Thank you!

A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to be able to attend an evening performance of Amélie. The play, based off of the film of the same name stars Hamilton’s Phillipa Soo as the title character. Amélie is about a young Parisian waitress who undergoes her own personal transformation after she decides to become a do-gooder. Amélie’s attempts to anonymously change peoples lives are as cute and quirky as she is, of course things go awry when her bout with altruism leads her into the path of equally as charming Nino, played by Adam Chanler-Berat. Amélie must wrestle with what has kept her away from making connections with others and decide whether or not she’s ready to take the ultimate risk, and truly live.

Amelie on Broadway Review | The NYC TalonAmélie, A New Musical WALTER KERR THEATRE

I absolutely loved this show. It is everything that I hoped it would be. Amélie is whimsical and, to my relief, not at all presumptuous. While the play is meant to take place in Paris, it doesn’t feel Parisian in the sense that you are an outsider looking in. In fact, you could easily imagine Amélie taking place in the village. The set design was lovely, and the theater – the Walter Kerr Theater – was small enough to feel intimate. It was as if the cast were speaking and singing right to you. Which is lovely considering that Amélie has a wonderful cast, Phillipa Soo brings Amélie alive in the most perfect way.

Amélie, A New Musical WALTER KERR THEATREAmélie, A New MusicalWALTER KERR THEATRE219 W. 48TH ST.

My favorite scenes involve both the younger and the older Amélie, and Savvy Crawford does an outstanding job as young Amélie. I don’t consider myself a theater snob at all, but if I were one I’d definitely say (in the most posh tone I could muster) that we can expect great things of Savvy Crawford. Honestly, I wish I had as much talent in my right pinky at her age as she does now.

Amélie, A New Musical WALTER KERR THEATRE

There is so much to be said for Amélie, but at the risk of including any spoilers I will leave off with letting you know I’d give this a 5/5 and all the gold stars. Amélie only has a limited number of shows left, so snatch up a ticket if you get the chance. Additionally, they’ve revealed on the shows twitter page that they will be releasing the cast recording on iTunes and if you pre-order it now you get an immediate download of my favorite song from the show – “Stay”.

Amelie on Broadway Entertainment Weekly Review

More information, and details on how to get tickets here.

Catch the Eagles, Steely Dan, Fleetwood Mac, Journey & More at The Classic Concerts!

*This is a sponsored post*

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There is nothing like heading to a summer concert. But a summer concert featuring nothing but legendary bands? Pretty epic, and definitely a bucket list item. This July you can catch the Eagles; Steely Dan; the Doobie Brothers; Journey; Fleetwood Mac; and Earth, Wind, and Fire at one of two 2-day The Classic concerts to hit both the East and West coast.

The ultimate for any classic rock fan, the first two concerts will be held at Citi Field on July 29th and 30th. Ballpark concessions will be open for service during the concert, which is great since Citi Field has some amazing food options (Shake Shack and Pat LaFrieda, anyone?). Check out more details here.

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Then the concert heads over to the west coast, in Los Angeles’ Dodger Stadium on July 15th and 16th. With such an amazing line-up, here’s a sneak peek of what to expect:

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Tickets go on sale tomorrow April 7th, 2017 – so mark your calendars and be sure to visit The Classic website here! Follow The Classic on facebook for more updates and further details!

Jamie Greenberg’s Allergy Face Tips & Looks Available on the beGlammed App!

Most of my mornings start way too early, with packed trains, elbows, coffee, and loads of foot traffic. So it was a much more than a welcome reprieve when I was invited to spend my Wednesday morning with Jordana Brewster and celebrity makeup artist, Jamie Greenberg, at the Gramercy Park Hotel’s Gramercy Terrace.

Gramery Park Hotel Zyrtec Event Juice BarGramery Park Hotel Terrace Lightbulbs

I’ve met Jamie before, and she is so sweet and clearly so passionate about what she does. I wish I had half the energy she did that morning! Seriously though, there really isn’t enough caffeine in a cup of coffee anymore, is there?

Allergy Face Event NYCJamie Greenberg and Jordana Brewster Zyrtec Event

Jamie, who has been working with Zyrtec for about 4 years now, knows all about the struggles brought on by allergy season – “As a makeup artist, I know that looking your best can be a challenge, especially during allergy season. I am so excited to work with the makers of Zyrtec to develop new tips to help women solve their Allergy Face beauty challenges – watery eyes, red nose and puffiness.”

Here are some of Jamie’s Beauty Tips:

  • Make sure makeup removing wipes are marked as gentle for sensitive skin or you’ll run the risk of worsening redness from Allergy Face.
  • Use a hydrating mask and a light moisturizer to even out skin texture and color.
  • Make your eyes appear more open by curling your lashes, and applying black mascara to upper and lower lashes when dealing with watery eyes.

Allergy Face Zyrtec EventAllergy Face Tip from Jamie Greenberg

I was also treated to an Allergy Face, customized, makeover by the beGlammed app team! My makeup artist, Darlene, was incredibly nice and didn’t mind the fact that I awkwardly blinked-smudged the mascara she was applying, and tried talking while she was applying my lipstick. Thanks Darlene! ;)

NYC Makeup Artist Darlene beGlammed AppbeGlammed App Allergy Face MakeoversbeGlammed App Makeovers

Right now, until June 7th, the beGlammed app is offering Allergy Face makeovers as a part of their services provided. Allergy Face makeovers are designed to tackle your biggest Allergy Face concerns – itchy, watery eyes, and red noses too! The app also lists many of Jamie’s best tips, so you can try them out on your own as well. To find out more, click here.

You’re Invited: The Gilt City Sample Sale on April 7-9th!

The legendary Gilt City Warehouse Sale is getting a complete makeover! The Gilt Sample Sale, taking place on April 7-9th in NYC will be featuring a new design and exciting lifestyle offerings, such as:

  • Onsite styling
  • On-demand tailoring
  • Luxurious pop-up shops
  • Gilt City concierge

gilt city sample salesGilt City Shopping Party

The Gilt Sample Sale will offer stylish apparel, shoes, handbags, jewelry and home decor from coveted designers like Balenciaga, Prada, Valentino, John Varvatos and Paul Smith—all at up to 80 percent off retail. Look forward to a revamped layout and shopping experience, complete with the ability to browse by price point, trend and more. 

Gilt Shopping Partysample sales nyc

Each ticket includes:                             

  • Admission for one to the Gilt Sample Sale at Center415 on Friday, April 7, 2017 from 9 PM -11 PM
  • Up to 80% off designer brands like Chloé, Valentino, Tibi, Sandro, Maje, The Kooples, Derek Lam, Helmut Lang, Jimmy Choo, Tom Ford, Paul Smith and John Varvatos
  • Complimentary Chateau d’Esclans Whispering Angel Rosé
  • Mount Gay Rum will be serving unique craft cocktails, including stirred Old Fashioned cocktails and refreshing Rum Punch, from recipes developed by NYC’s best mixologists
  • Personal styling advice from celebrity stylist, Catherine Peridis
  • On-demand alterations and tailoring from Air Tailor
  • ROYCE New York pop-up shop with leather accessories and complimentary onsite monogramming
  • Lifestyle concierge services from Gilt City
  • Luna and Cliff Whole Nutrition bars
  • Sounds by DJ Rosé
  • Complimentary coat check (guests must check all coats and bags/purses larger than 5″x7″ before entering the sale)
  • FastPass line for those with bags smaller than 5″x7″ and no coats
  • Complimentary Coco Community coconut water to help you keep your strength up as you shop
  • Free mini facials & makeup application from The Ritualist and APTO Skincare (or enjoy a 30-minute service at extra charge)
  • Retromarine pop-up shop with handmade trunks for men
  • Onsite Miansai accessories sample sale
  • Wala Swim pop-up, a curated collection of the best fitting suits

Get your tickets on Gilt City before they sell out, click here!