Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

Synopsis by Goodreads

Shortly after Mother’s Day, I took my thoughtful gift (from the hubby) on a trip to Barnes & Noble. I thought I’d begin buying new copies of Harry Potter but my local store didn’t have the Kazu Kibuishi editions I’m dying to get. As I was walking by one of the many display tables, Shadow and Bone caught my eye. I quick scan told me all the books on display were part of the same universe. It looked familiar, even the universe, Grishaverse, sounded familiar. I picked up Shadow and Bone to read the back cover when realization dawned on me, of course, I’ve seen these books. Like Sky in the Deep, the series is littered through bookstagram.

That’s when I hesitated. I picked up Shadow and Bone then placed it back on the table not once but twice. To be honest, I was intimidated by how many books were already in the universe. I had no idea where to start plus I really wasn’t sure I wanted to start another young adult series. I eventually did push the hesitation aside and I’m really happy I did.

I’ll admit, initially I was not impressed and I felt the map was confusing AF. Literally thirty pages later, I was eating my words. As soon as Alina hit the shadow fold my interest piqued. That said, I never actually read the back cover during my hesitation, I picked it up solely on Instagram recommendations. Though it says it on the back cover, I still easily guessed that Alina was a powerful Grisha and the only one of her kind too. I suppose if I had bothered to read the back cover the guesswork would have been taken out of the equation.

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Harry’s Favorite Ice Cream

I don’t know anyone who didn’t salivate over the food in Harry Potter. The books inspired millions of recipes and recreations alike. While recipes for pumpkin pasties, chocolate frogs, and treacle tarts are plentiful. There does seem to be one recipe that is rather elusive. And that is the ice cream.

Harry, Ron, and Hermione strolled off along the winding, cobbled street. The bag of gold, silver, and bronze jangling cheerfully in Harry’s pocket was clamoring to be spent, so he bought three large strawberry-and-peanut-butter ice creams, which they slurped happily as they wandered up the alley, examining the fascinating shop windows.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Harry is clearly a fan of ice cream. He eats raspberry and chocolate with chopped nuts in The Philosophers Stone and gets free sundaes every half hour in The Prisoner of Azkaban. The real question here is how did the strawberry peanut butter flavor become canon? Were you to ask any fan what is the defining flavor of ice cream in Harry Potter, strawberry peanut butter is exactly how they would answer. It doesn’t sound terrible but doesn’t raspberry and chocolate sound better? (Insert shoulder shrug emoji here.)

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Inge’s Breakfast Grains

There were only three descriptions of food in Adrienne Young’s Sky in the Deep. Two of which were the same breakfast item and the third was fish.

Inge poured the grain out onto a large hot cooking stone, toasting it with a wooden paddle. The house filled with the warm nutty smell and my stomach pinched with hunger.

Halvard set out wooden bowls and Inge filled them with the grain before pouring the hot water over them.

Adrienne Young, Sky in the Deep; pg. 81

I personally felt that the description of the grains sounded very, very much like oats. That is how I interpreted the grains so that’s exactly what I decided to use in this recreation. After some quick googling I found the general consensus on toasted oats to be undeniably tasty. I also found that a lot of people toasted their oats in butter (which sounds divine ughh) but for the purpose of this recipe I opted to omit the butter.

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Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young

Ond Eldr. Breathe Fire.

Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield—her brother, fighting with the enemy—the brother she watched die five years ago.
Faced with her brother’s betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan thought to be a legend, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family.
She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend, who sees her as a threat. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and family while daring to put her faith in the people she’s spent her life hating.

Synopsis by Goodreads

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A lesson in valuing yourself

Do you remember the person who taught you what it is to value, honor and respect yourself?

My brother, Tommy, was the one who taught me the value of honoring myself. I grew up looking up to him (he totally knew that too) had he pulled me aside and delivered a heartfelt speech I would have listened and immediately taken the advice. As it turns out, he had no need for epic speeches.

Tommy taught me how to honor myself by allowing me to be myself. He never exploded when he found me reading Harry Potter in the most comfortable chair in the house, a faded periwinkle blue second-hand armchair in his bedroom. Instead of blowing me off when I asked him to take me to punk concerts at Irving Place and Roseland Ballroom, he went as friend and chaperone. When I had my first sip of alcohol, he made sure it was Smirnoff Ice and at our house, under his attention.

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