In a span of five days, you have heard about food, bookstores, food trucks, and expo advice for your upcoming jaunt to New York City for the BEAExpo. Now it’s FRIDAY. FRIDAYY! Which means it’s pretty much happy hour, right? (For those of you, 21 and older of course. Ahem. We must be responsible.) If you haven’t guessed today I’m walking about beer, wine, and coffee — some of my favorite beverages.
Truth? I was not a beer drinker for a long time. In fact, I thought it stunk and I never had any desire to have it. But my husband and I have steadily grown fond of craft beer since we started dating, and I actually figured out WOW BEER CAN TASTE GOOD. Yes, it really can. (Though I prefer a draft. ha! Bad beer joke!) One of our favorite hobbies is trying new beer. (It brings a whole new level of joy to grocery shopping.)
So let’s start there:
Heartland Brewery (various locations throughout Manhattan)
This is where I fell in love with beer. Every season they feature a few different brews, and the food is pretty good too. (Although kind of on the pricier side.) For food, I love the Taco Salad and the Buffalo Chicken Salad. As for beer, they have a pretty decent sampler here (you can share and try a little bit of everything). My favorites are: Harvest Wheat (light) and Oatmeal Stout (dark).
Keep in mind: they are strict about people ordering food when seated in the dining room. There’s plenty of room at the bar and in the front lounge to grab a beer though!
Beer Authority (40th Street/8th near Port Authority in Manhattan)
THIS has become one of my favorite spots. I love the food. I’ve come to realize a lot of places that have good beer don’t always have the best food but Beer Authority has a nice menu and FRESH burger sliders and awesome tacos. Share plates! Appetizers! A menu of specials! But the best part is: over 90 beers on tap. There’s also a roof top bar! Yay! Love the food, love the beer selection, and while the wait staff is so so, this is one of my top choices any weekend.
FYI: They do have a Sunday brunch with a jazz band too!
The Pony Bar (two locations: Hell’s Kitchen + Upper East Side)
A great spot to drink and have lunch on a Saturday afternoon. It’s pretty empty. Saturday nights are another story, but if you have the time and love craft beer from the United States — this is a cute spot. I’ve had a ton of great times here and the beer list is always changing. Best of all? The beers are 5 dollars. Something that is almost unheard of for GOOD beer in New York City. P.S. The pulled pork sandwich is amazing.
Now for those of you who are wine fans… my coworker was sweet enough to put together a list of some wine places she enjoys:
Riposo 72: 50 W. 72nd Street (b/t Columbus & Central Park West)
Riposo is small and has an intimate feel, but is usually not crowded. Staff is very nice and helpful. The sign on the door is not prominent, so keep an eye out.
The Tangled Vine: 434 Amsterdam Avenue (at 81st)
The Tangled Vine is a bit more expensive than some other places, but the wine and food are really good – and it’s usually pretty crowded as a result. Worth it though!
Buceo 95: 201 W. 95th Street (at Amsterdam)
Buceo 95 has a great wine selection and some excellent Spanish tapas. Look for the red sign that says “Vins + Tapas.”
Aroma Kitchen & Wine Bar: 36 E. 4th Street (b/t Lafayette & Bowery)
Aroma has a very cute atmosphere – it’s definitely on the pricey side though and I’d recommend more for serious wine connoisseurs!
AYZA Wine & Chocolate Bar: 11 W. 31st Street (b/t 5th & Broadway)
This place is great – fairly small space but fantastic wine and food, and very friendly service. Highly recommend for groups (though you may want to call ahead).
Ardesia: 510 W. 52nd Street (b/t 10th & 11th)
Ardesia feels trendy but the prices are not bad at all. Good selection of small plates to go with you wine!
Kashkaval: 856 9th Avenue (b/t 55th & 56th)
Tiny space but worth the trip – Mediterranean wine and small plates. Highly recommend the fondue!
And last but not least:
COFFEE IS MY DRUG.
Gregorys Coffee is my favorite place. Their iced coffee is the best I’ve ever had + their pastries are all made on the premises. Yum!
If you happy to find yourself in Queens, I do love the Lucid Cafe. Their Green Tea Latte is an absolute masterpiece.
For the tea fans, Rachel from Hello Chelly introduced me to Argo Tea (there are a few locations as well). My favorite is the Vanilla Earl Grey. (I love that you can get the tea hot or iced!)
What’s there left for me to say? Cheers, friends! And please share your recommendations below!
Stick around the rest of the weekend for a few more posts in the BEApart of It: New York, NY series!
manicpixiedreamgirl by Tom Leveen (website | twitter)
Publication Date: April 23, 2013
Publisher: Random House Children’s Books
Target audience: Young Adult
Keywords: conflicted emotions, male POV, past and present, contemporary fiction
Format read: ARC received via NetGalley (Thank you!)
Other Books Read By Leveen: Zero
Summary: Tyler’s first short story is soon to be published in a literary journal where everyone will find out the truth — that while he’s been dating Sydney, he’s secretly been in love with Becky.
There are a handful of you that will be turned off by the premise of Tom Leveen’s new book, Manicpixiedreamgirl.
You won’t want to read about a boy, Tyler, who is dating one girl, Sydney, but is in love with another, Becky.
You’ll be worried that he’s going to cheat. And cheating isn’t fun to read about.
But you’ll be unnecessarily worried.
Because even though Tyler should let go of Sydney, there’s something so incredibly gripping and magnetic about Leveen’s writing. He lures you into the story with breadcrumbs of information that make your mouth salivate in anticipation for the next bite.
Manicpixiedreamgirl alternates between the past (beginning the first day of freshman year when Tyler first lays eyes on Becky) and the present (when his first short story is being published in a literary journal and he’s in a relationship with Sydney). Tyler’s immediately drawn to Becky; she sits alone at lunch, sorts her animal crackers into interesting piles, and happens to be reading one of his favorite Stephen King books. She’s an enigma. He loves watching her from afar (because he’s too timid to actually talk to her in person).
One day in English class when Sydney mentions that she knows Becky, Tyler bombards her with questions to gather any snippet of information he can. And somehow, weeks later, Tyler finds himself on a non-date with Sydney … which leads to them becoming a couple without an official proclamation ever being made. It just sort of happens.
Tyler’s in an odd position because he never fully intended to date Sydney. He still daydreams about Becky and wants to find ways to spend time with her. Out of respect for Sydney, he’s very cautious when he does interact with Becky and is ever the gentleman.
But in the privacy of his own home, he writes stories. Countless stories are written and revised.
And it just so happens that one of those is being published in the literary journal. Where surely everyone (especially Sydney) will be able to put together that Tyler is in love with Becky.
The only other book I’ve read of Tom Leveen’s is Zero, which I loved so much because of how well Leveen dove into his character’s minds. Tyler’s character was no different. Every struggle he felt seemed so authentic and real. How could he have allowed himself to fall into a relationship with Sydney? How can he love Becky and not hurt Sydney? His best friends were the perfect, humorous balance to the anxiety-ridden Tyler that seemed to always be toeing the line between what he wanted and what he was forced into.
Often I’m frustrated with characters that are pushovers and don’t stand up for themselves. I don’t know how he did it, but Leveen never angered me with Tyler’s passiveness. Tyler was still kind and thoughtful, intelligent, and aware of how all his decisions would affect those around him. I suppose the correct term would be mature. He didn’t make quick, erratic decisions, but instead let things play out naturally.
Leveen’s writing is stimulating and ever so engaging. Just as Tyler was drawn to Becky, so will you be seduced by Manicpixiedreamgirl, desperately hoping to untangle the messy web Tyler finds himself caught in.
Goodreads | Amazon
The Symptoms of My Insanity by Mindy Raf (website | twitter)
Publication Date: April 18, 2013
Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers
Target audience: Young Adult
Keywords: sick parent, best friend trouble, boy drama, chaotic teenage life
Format read: ARC received via NetGalley (Thank you!)
Summary: Izzy has a lot going on in her life — family, friend, and romance-wise — so much that she doesn’t really know how to handle it. She’s also a hypochondriac who looks up all the symptoms she feels. The problem is, in real life, there’s no easy, curable way to put all the dramatic pieces of her life back together.
Izzy looks up every symptom she feels to determine whether or not she’s sick. She’s a hypochondriac.
But, really, beneath the surface of all the pretend illnesses Izzy could possibly maybe have, she’s got a whole lot going on in her life:
- a mother who refuses to accept she’s sick and needs help
- a potential new boyfriend who wants to sprint around the bases faster than Izzy feels comfortable with
- three art pieces to start/finish for a chance to study in Italy
- a best friend who is acting completely out of character
- an ex-best friend who seems to want to be friends again
Friends, there was a lot to absorb in The Symptoms of My Insanity. Izzy was under so much pressure and her passiveness didn’t help to sort through any of the tasks that were building up in her life. As an outsider, I wanted to scream at Izzy to run in the other direction when her best friend, Jenna, throws her into the midst of set design for the drama club. After all I’ve listed above, don’t you agree Izzy has enough going on? Sure, Izzy is definitely a pushover and should have stood up for herself (countless times), but it was painful to see the tornado of disaster that was about to sweep through Izzy’s life. Especially when she was trying to balance so much she couldn’t see the destruction heading her way.
Ultimately, I walked away feeling glad that I had finished Mindy Raf’s book, but I still wish she hadn’t put Izzy through quite so much. Reflecting on the story, I wish Raf would have left out the entire Izzy-starts-dating-Blake storyline (in which he’s a jerk with zero backbone and does something pretty craptastic to Izzy). I wasn’t entirely happy with the resolution here and it seemed unnecessarily dramatic (especially when there was a kind, nerdy boy patiently waiting for Izzy to recognize him as more than a friend). The subtle side romance would have been so much sweeter without the hasty relationship with Blake thrown into the mix.
In real life it seems when one terrible thing happens, a ton of others seem to follow. True as that may be, Izzy probably would have had a nervous breakdown if her story were real. And though things did end well, after so much negative buildup I would have liked to have reveled in the ending a bit more to see how things played out long-term in Izzy’s life. (I felt like I closed the book with a heavy heart.)
Sure, I definitely enjoy drama in books, but I am a firm believer that enough is enough for there to be a sense of realism. Raf’s writing was meticulous, but a ‘less is more’ approach would have helped me relate to Izzy in a more meaningful way instead of feeling like I was approaching a train wreck.
Goodreads | Buy on Amazon
Riptide by Lindsey Scheibe ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: May 1, 2013
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: surfing, college, best friends, family secrets, immigration
Format read: ARC on NetGalley via Publisher. (Thanks!)
Summary: Ford and Grace are best friends, but best friends who aren’t so secretly in love with each other. While Ford makes moves, Grace pushes him away. She can only focus on one thing this summer: winning the surfing competition to hopefully ensure her admittance to the college of her choice. In the meantime, Ford trades his wet suit for a suit suit at his law internship at Grace’s dad’s firm. His focus? Make a difference with immigration reform.
This is the second time in a row that a vibrant book cover oozing with the feel of summer ended up taking on a much more serious tone than I imagined.
Riptide is told from the alternating perspectives of Ford and Grace, two best friends/surfing buddies, who are so in love with each other but for various reasons cannot get it together. Ford is all for being upfront with his feelings, but Grace’s avoidance makes him question if she likes him like that at all. Of course, we know that she does and the foundation for some mega-tension between the two is set.
But this is more than a romance. Grace has many secrets at home, and her trust for people is pretty non-existant. Her parents pile on the pressure for her to go to an Ivy League school and her mom is constantly worried about appearances. (There’s a certain irony in that detail.) Since forever, Grace’s main escape and passion has been hitting the waves. She’s pretty damn good at it too, and would rather pass up her Ivy League chances to stay close by and be part of an awesome college surf team.
When Ford signs her up for a big-time competition, Grace hones in all her energy (or as much as she can) into succeeding and hopefully finding the courage to stand up to her parents about what she really wants. In the meantime, Ford is embracing his own future by interning at Grace’s dad’s law firm and hoping to learn more about immigration return, after an unfortunate incident that hit close to home.
Scheibe does a great job of injecting diversity into this cast of characters from Ford’s new friends at work to the Spanish frequently spoken at his home. I never see this enough in the young adult genre, and it’s always refreshing when it pops up in my reading.
Unfortunately, at some point, Riptide becomes more of Grace’s story (for good reason) and we lose a lot of Ford’s perspective, weakening the second half of the book considerably. His story was worth fleshing out too, and I wish more balance had been achieved. His friends were intriguing and so were his ambitions. As the book went on, I continued to question whether the book as a whole would have been stronger if Grace had been the only voice we had been introduced to.
Even as the book winds down, despite real change coming to all the characters, everything was sewn up a bit too perfectly for me. Too much emphasis was placed on how surfing related to real life, and, while yeah, that makes a ton of sense… I don’t think the reader needed it spelt out quite the way that it was.
While Scheibe did bring a rare family dynamic to the forefront and forced Grace to make necessary but tough choices, a fair amount of tweaking and buffing up the thinner plotlines would have made Riptide a more impactful, well-rounded story.
Goodreads | Amazon
Criminal by Terra Elan McVoy ( web | tweet )
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: May 7, 2013
Target audience: Mature young adult
Keywords: dependent relationships, crime, secrets
Format read: ARC via Edelweiss from Publisher. (Thanks!)
Summary: The morning after what was supposed to be the best date of her life, Nikki watches Dee leave to be questioned by the police department. He assures her everything is going to be fine, makes sure their story is straight, and promises to get in touch with her when he can. Even though Nikki knows she was roped into something terrible, hears the gunshots in her head, she trusts Dee when he says everything is going to be alright. Because love conquers all, right?
Criminal was one of those books I had to hide in another room so I wouldn’t be tempted to keep picking it up way way past my bedtime.
Terra Elan McVoy, queen of summer camp and girls being friends with boys, has created such a tense, horrifying, addicting read in 288 short pages. Nikki is a down on her luck teenager with an unstable home life, finally finding a sense of home with her best friend, Bird, and her baby daughter. But her whole life changes when she meets Dee and falls desperately in love. The desperate kind of love that makes you forget everything else, leaves you so undone, where everything else seems unimportant.
Dee is passionate when he’s sexy and when he’s angry, and makes Nikki feel worthwhile and safe. He’s the kind of guy that really knows how to manipulate a situation, knows how to use sex to his advantage and gets Nikki involved in a heartless crime. Before she even knows what’s happening he gives her a disguise, tells her where to drive and when to wait for him. Nikki is scared but not sure what to do, and when she hears the gunshots and sees Dee’s face afterwards, she’s still not sure what to feel.
The next morning Dee is questioned by the cops and promises to contact Nikki when he can. Nikki goes nuts trying to say the right things to the cops when they come to question her, and keeping everything from Bird is really hard. When she realizes the murder Dee has committed may get Bird in big trouble, Nikki confesses just enough to clear Bird from the crime but not enough to keep herself out of jail.
Does this sound like your typical YA?
McVoy has branched out so much; it’s like Criminal is from a different planetary system. Her succinct writing style, the oodles of research that had to be done, and the fact that as a reader, I couldn’t decide if Nikki was incredibly weak for not standing up to Dee before he killed someone or just totally helpless in the heat of the moment, or if she was really at fault or not when she had no idea what he was planning. Every time she texted him (and wasn’t supposed to), my brain was screaming “Nooo Nikki! Don’t you know they will have a record of those texts to use against you?” (Cue everything I learned from the Casey Anthony trial.)
It’s amazing — even though Nikki is now IN jail, obviously strained her friendship with Bird and lost her job, she still can’t believe anything bad about Dee. She’s afraid FOR him. I kept wondering when she would finally break, when she would finally start to feel angry because she still felt attached to him after the “foundation” of their relationship started to crack. After the authorities let a few of his lies loose. It’s kind of like watching someone wind down from the biggest high of their life and finally be forced to make make do with truth.
In the jail, with this group of girls, and having the opportunity to incarcerate Dee by spilling every detail she can think of, Nikki grows and changes in ways I didn’t fathom. For awhile, she’s detached, guilty, bored, obsessed, apprehensive, difficult. But jail is kind of this blessing; it’s a controlled environment, something she is not used to with her addict mom’s antics, or the disdain she felt from Bird when she was dating Dee. Even when things start to click for Nikki, her life is not without consequence and big unfortunate changes.
Criminal is such a tight, well-written story yet still leaves a lot of room for discussion. I really appreciated the leaps that McVoy took with her writing this go-around; this story about power, lust, and love never felt over-dramatized or black and white. And the fact that I was able to discuss the details at length with my husband just proved to me how versatile a book it was for readers, with the ability to satisfy a larger audience.
Goodreads | Amazon