December 11, 2019

What I Reread in 2019

Barring whatever I'll reread in December, I reread 67+ books this year. And I thought it would be fun to discuss which ones I did, and what I wanted to but didn't get around to rereading.

What I Reread


~I binged the Harry Potter series again this summer! What a wild ride. It had been a few years since I read them. I'd reread a few a few years ago when I wrote my essay about why Severus Snape is the absolute worst, but most of that was skim rereads.
~I reread more SJM books for work.
~I reread several of the books in my beloved The Mother-Daughter Book Club series, as well as some of the later Betsy-Tacy books.
~I may have reread several Babysitters Club books, though I didn't put most of them in my spreadsheet since I blazed through them so quickly. Shoutout to the NYPL for having most of the series as e-books.
~Another longtime favorite - the Heist Society trilogy - got a reread this past spring. I live for the day Ally Carter announces book four.
~I only reread two books more than once: Famous in a Small Town and Foolish Hearts. #1 Emma Mills stan, if you couldn't tell.
~Last month, I did a mini readalong with a fellow blogger who was reading the Murder Most Unladylike series for the first time! I hadn't read the first two books in AGES, so that was a fun rediscovery.

What I Wish I'd Reread

There were definitely several books I didn't have the time to reread. Here are a few key titles:


~I really wanted to reread the Gallagher Girls series. I reread Heist Society every year or so, but GG has definitely fallen by the wayside. (I think it being a longer series makes it a little more daunting.)
~Every year I set a goal to reread books I haven't in awhile, to see if I still like them and if I still want to own them. I suck at fulfilling this goal. (Though I did manage to do it with a few books!) Namely, though, I didn't get around to rereading Rachael Allen's books or The Secrets of Lily Graves.
~After I loved the Veronica Speedwell series this winter/spring, I wanted to reread them, now that I own all four. Alas. I'll probably wait until it's closer to book 5's release, now that 2019 is almost over.
~As for a few other books that it's been awhile since I reread, here's what I'm hoping to get to:

So what did you reread this year, or what had you hoped to reread in 2019?

December 9, 2019

Emma's Favorite NYC Bakeries and Coffee Shops

I swear, half the places I visited in New York were bakeries. And the list of food places I still want to try is mostly bakeries. I have a sweet tooth, honestly.

I talked about my favorite pie shops back in May, and obviously all of those are implicitly included in this list. But I've got several more favorites, so let's get started.

Doughnut Plant (Chelsea, Lower East Side, Grand Central, Prospect Heights-ish area)
I love donuts almost as much as pie and waffles. Just thinking about Doughnut Plant has my mouth watering. I went a few times, and though I can't remember everything I tried, I know the Brooklyn Blackout donut knocked it out of the park. I kept wanting to try their "dough-flower" (pictured below) but it was always sold out when I went! Even on weekdays!

Image credit: The Coverage

The Donut Pub (14th Street, Astor Place)
This one has more traditional cake donut flavors, and they were a great treat before/after church. Also, it just feels so neighborhood-y and old school inside.

The Doughnut Project (Greenwich Village)
I only got to stop in on a food tour at first, but they have so many fun flavors and if I hadn't had so many slices of pie that weekend, I would've definitely bought some donuts to-go. But when I went back to New York this fall, I popped over and got a rosé donut!

Blank Slate Coffee + Kitchen (NoMad, Midtown)
This is a trendy little place along Madison Avenue (with a new location in Midtown too). It was super crowded when I went semi-early on a Saturday morning, but I liked the waffle I had. The waffles are a bit small, so I'd recommend getting two. I squeezed in a little writing time while finishing my hot chocolate, then had to give up my seat at the large communal table as soon as I was done lol.

Maman (NoMad, SoHo, Tribeca, Greenpoint, Montreal, Toronto)
I love Maman with all my heart (even if they went and changed my favorite waffles on us, booooo; though the current variation sounds better than the ones I had in May, but still not as good as the lavender cornmeal berry waffles). Their lavender hot chocolate is amazing, and I loved the matcha rose limeade they did for summer 2018. They have several locations with the best pastries. My favorite location started getting really crowded so I stopped going for writing sessions, sadly. I'm loathe to tell people about it because I don't want them to grow any more in popularity (unless it means they'll expand into Brooklyn or down here to Virginia, lol), but honestly, I can't keep them a secret.

This bakery feels like it's been there for decades, if not centuries. The line is worth the wait (though it wasn't too long in the middle of a weekday afternoon). There's pie, cakes, cupcakes, and pastries. Everything you could ever want.

Levain (UWS)
Everyone knows about Levain, but their cookies are so so good, and so worth the wait. If you get the dark chocolate one, ordering a cup of milk is a must. Also, I'm that rare person who likes oatmeal raisin cookies, and theirs are superb.

One Girl Cookies (Brooklyn - DUMBO and Cobble Hill)
In my NY post a few weeks ago, I promised to talk more about One Girl Cookies. They make the cutest tea cookies, and my mom likes their whoopie pies, and you can sit and order tea too. The DUMBO location is more heavily trafficked, I think (though I've never had a long wait), but the Cobble Hill location feels homey and like a quintessential neighborhood spot. Cookie recs: the apricot almond, the chocolate mocha (which this non-coffee person loves), the seasonal shortbread, and the chocolate chip

Almondine (Brooklyn - DUMBO)
Confession: Almondine, OGC, and my next rec all came to me via Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han. And I'm so glad they did! I've gone to Almondine for macarons exclusively, but they have other lovely-looking pastries too.

Jacques Torres (Brooklyn - DUMBO)
This is less of a bakery and more of a chocolate shop, but it fits best on this list because of the legendary chocolate chip cookies which are delicious. I've also gotten chocolates on a few occasions, and my dad loves the drinking chocolate.

Little Cupcake Bakeshop (SoHo; Prospect Heights, Brooklyn)
You have to go solely for the Brooklyn Blackout cupcake. No excuses.

Sarabeth's (Chelsea Market)
If you're paying attention, I put this spot on the last list, too. But it's also a great place to get pastries like muffins and scones. The smaller Chelsea Market's location is best for this. And of course there's half a dozen other cute bakeries in Chelsea Market to boot, so you'll have your pick. 

If you have favorite New York bakeries and coffee shops, please share! I'd love ideas of where to go next time I'm in town.

December 8, 2019

Rewind & Review #149

~I got to meet up with one of my best friends right before Thanksgiving. We went to BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse. I had a berry cider, and we shared a trio of mini pizookies (warm, deep dish cookies topped with ice cream). I love dessert.

~"Into the Unknown" from Frozen II is stuck in my head, and I'm not mad.
~I didn't win NaNoWriMo this year, but that was to be expected.
~I started my new job. Orientation was a lot. The actual first shift was good, though.
~TAYLOR SWIFT CONTINUES TO BE THE DEATH OF ME. (Niall Horan too, at this point.)

Books I Read
Little White Lies by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (reread)
Deadly Little Scandals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (3 stars)
Death by Chocolate Lab by Bethany Blake (3 stars)
10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston (4 stars)
Murder with Lemon Tea Cakes by Karen Rose Smith (4 stars)
Don't You Forget About Me by Mhairi McFarlane (2 stars)
Small Town Hearts by Lillie Vale (3 stars)
The Library of Lost Things by Laura Taylor Namey (4 stars)

Blog Posts You Might've Missed in the Last Few Weeks
   (from 11/25-11/30)
   (from 12/1-12/7)

December 7, 2019

The Best Book Covers of 2019

It's time for a little cover love focus. Here are all the YA and middle grade covers I liked best in 2019.

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The Never-Tilting World by Rin Chupeco
Nocturna by Maya Motayne


The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee
The Raven's Tale by Cat Winters


Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga
Summer of a Thousand Pies by Margaret Dilloway


If It Makes You Happy by Claire Kann
I Wanna Be Where You Are by Kristina Forest

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I Love You So Mochi by Sarah Kuhn
Hungry Hearts by various authors


Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett
With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo


The Tiger at Midnight by Swati Teerdhala
Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte

Courting Darkness by Robin LaFevers
The Girl King by Mimi Yu


Famous in a Small Town by Emma Mills
The Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Philippe

Which books published this year had your favorite covers?

December 5, 2019

From the Bookshelf to the Kitchen: Serious Moonlight and Pie #3

The pies just keep coming! ;)

"We shared a slice of the Pie of the Day: LIVIN' ON A PEAR, featuring spiced Anjou pears under an angelic cloud of streusel topping." ~ pg. 319 of Serious Moonlight

Livin' on a Pear Pie

1 unbaked pie crust (homemade or store-bought)
6 medium pears, peeled and sliced
1/2 c. granulated sugar
4 T. all-purpose flour
3/4 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. salt
1 t. lemon zest
1 T. lemon juice
1 T. butter, diced

Streusel topping:
3/4 c. flour
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1/4 t. cinnamon
dash of salt
4 T. butter, melted

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the ingredients for the streusel topping, squeezing together, with your hands if needed, to form small clumps. Set aside.
2. Peel and slice the pears and add to a large bowl. Add the sugar, flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, lemon zest, lemon juice, and butter. Gently toss to combine.
3. Place the pie crust in a prepared pie pan, trimming and crimping the edges if need-be. Arrange the filling in the crust, then cover with the streusel topping, going all the way to the edge.
4. Bake at 375 for one hour, or until the filling is bubbly and the crust and topping are golden brown. (I would recommend using a crust protector - a metal instrument that covers just the edges of the pie crust - once you see the crust start getting golden.)
5. Let cool, then serve with ice cream, whipped cream, and/or caramel sauce.

This has definitely been my favorite pie of the series, thus far. ^.^

Have a book/recipe suggestion for this post series? Leave it in the comments below, and I'll try to get to it soon! :)

December 3, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Holiday Reads

Yay for holiday-themed books! Most of these are Christmasy, but I've indicated otherwise when applicable.

1. My New Crush Gave to Me by Shani Petroff

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2. My True Love Gave to Me by various authors
(Also has Hanukkah and New Year's stories.)

3. Mistletoe and Murder by Robin Stevens

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4. Snow in Love by various authors
(Has a Hanukkah story!)

5. Together at Midnight by Jennifer Castle
(New Year's Eve)

6. Home for the Holidays by Heather Vogel Frederick

7. 10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston

Those are the only ones I can think of! Do you have any other YA holiday recommendations?

November 30, 2019

Emma's Favorite NYC Restaurants

Like I said in my round-up of favorite New York spots, I needed separate posts just to list all the food places I loved. I've decided to split it into restaurants where I would (usually) get full meals and then bakeries and coffee shops. And I'm doing a section for desserts at the end of this post because, while I've talked about my favorite pie shops before (and they're going in the bakery post, too) three places aren't what I'd call bakeries and two of them are distinctly sweets only. ANYWAYS. Here's a rundown of some of my favorite New York and Brooklyn restaurants.

Dinner (or Lunch)

1. Petit Poulet (Herald Square/NoMad)
2. Le Grainne Cafe (Chelsea)
This pick and the last one I listed are French restaurants with yummy food. I had coq au vin at Petit Poulet, and chicken risotto at Le Grainne Cafe.

3. S'Mac (East Village)
Customizable macaroni and cheese? Yes, please.

4. Hill Country Chicken (Flatiron)
Some of the best fried chicken north of the Mason-Dixon line.

5. Empanada Mama (Hell's Kitchen, Lower East Side)
I can't rave about these empanadas enough, and the plantain chips and guacamole are AMAZING too. (My favorite empanada is the shredded chicken [in a wheat flour pastry].)

6. River Deli (Brooklyn Heights)
**They are a cash-only place, fyi.**
This is a little neighborhood Italian restaurant that I went to a few times. It's best in the spring/summer because the lighting is a bit dim in the winter, so it can be hard to see your dinner and companions.

7. Bareburger (Theater District; Columbus Circle; Cobble Hill, Brooklyn; and more)
My go-to burger place, especially when I was getting dinner before going to a show. The Columbus Circle location is also where I discovered my favorite rosé cider.

8. Mile End Deli (downtown Brooklyn)
A little taste of Montréal in Brooklyn. It's got a lot of classic Jewish food, plus some of the best poutine I've had outside Québec.

9. Watty & Meg (Cobble Hill, Brooklyn)
Another neighborhood place that puts a lot of emphasis on farm-to-table and seasonal ingredients. They're a teeny bit sophisticated and eclectic, and I loved it.

10. The Bao (East Village)
So I never got an answer from anyone about where I should get my Chinese takeout while in New York, but a friend and I went to this spot this fall, and I really enjoyed it. They have great soup dumplings, and I liked the braised pork belly too. It's a super popular place though, so be prepared to wait and don't bring large bags with you if you can help it.


1. Maman (NoMad, SoHo, Tribeca, Greenpoint)
I'll talk more about Maman in my other restaurant post, but I loved getting brunch here. The waffles they did for most of my time in NY were to die for.

2. Friend of a Farmer (Gramercy Park)
I so wanted to try dinner here sometime, but brunch was all we ever did - because it was that good. I had every kind of pancakes possible. It's my mom's favorite spot too.

3. Bubby's (Tribeca, Highline)
A super popular place on weekends, but their pancakes, too, are to die for. I went on a weekday, which meant we had no wait whatsoever. Definitely something to consider. Plus - they have pie. ;)

4. Buttermilk Channel (Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn)
Quite a hike from Manhattan and most of Brooklyn, and it often has a long wait. But the food is super yummy (and it's located not too far from IKEA so if you're heading out that way to get some major home shopping done...).

5. Sarabeth's (Central Park South, Tribeca, UWS, UES, Park Avenue South)
Another popular brunch spot. But their muffins are amazing, and their omelettes are nothing to sneeze at either.


1. Spot Dessert Bar (East Village, plus a few other locations)
If you're a dessert fiend, surely you've heard of Spot. They do funky treats, and one of my best NY friends and I went there soooo many times. My recommendations: the Harvest, the matcha lava cake, and the golden toast. They also have seasonal offerings, and I loved a coconut monkey bread and a pumpkin cake last fall (and a pear cake this fall).

2. The Chocolate Room (Cobble Hill, Brooklyn)
You walk in and are immediately enthralled by the scent of chocolate. You can order things to-go, but there's also seating in the back where you can spend some time indulging in chocolate and beverages (including tea, coffee, and alcohol).

3. AYZA Wine & Chocolate Bar (NoMad/K-Town)
They have dinner offerings, too, since they're part of a hotel, but their big selling point are their alcoholic beverages and their spread of chocolate desserts. You can even get Jacques Torres truffles.

4. Kaylee's Creamery (NoMad/Flatiron)
It's a cute little ice cream parlor not too far from Madison Square Park. They do traditional flavors with twists, some more unique offerings, and seasonal flavors.

Have you been to any of these places? Or have you added them to your list now? I'm also all ears for recommendations that y'all have. :)