Friday, 16 December 2016

Bookish and Not So Bookish Thoughts

Bookish and Not So Bookish Thoughts is a weekly blogging event hosted by Bookishly Boisterous. It allows book bloggers (and non-book bloggers) to write about pretty much anything, bookish or otherwise (i.e. share exciting plans for the weekend, rants on things they've encountered during the week, etc).

1. I generally try to write a Bookish and Not So Bookish Thoughts post every 1-2 months but looking through my archive I can see that it's been almost four months since my last one! Oops! Anyway by far the most interesting thing that's happened to me over the past few months is that I finally got to go to New York so most of this post is going to have an NYC theme! :)

2. I went to New York in November with my mum and we had such an amazing time. We flew with American Airlines and after an 8 hour flight we arrived at JFK on Wednesday, the 16th of November. We landed at about 12.30 pm local time but it then took us another two hours to get through customs, claim luggage, ride the Airtrain and subway to get to our hotel in Midtown (the Hilton Metropolitan on Lexington Avenue), and wait to check into our room. After that we freshened up a bit and went to look at some sights! Our first stop was Grand Central Terminal which was about a 10 minute walk from our hotel. We had a look at the concourse there (which really is as beautiful as it looks in all the movies!) and then went down to the food court where I had a coffee and a banana pudding (so good!) at Magnolia Bakery. After that we walked over to the NY Public Library on 5th Avenue and had a quick look around (we didn't stay too long as there seemed to be some kind of a private function going on). Then we sat down and watched the ice skaters at Bryant Park for a while and then walked up to Times Square, After that we then headed back to our hotel and chilled out at the bar for a while before going to bed.

3. We both woke up really early on the Thursday morning as we were both still on UK time. Then we walked back over to Times Square so we could buy some tickets for the Broadway musical The Color Purple that night. I was shocked at how inexpensive our tickets were as the rush tickets were only $35 each and we had really good seats as we discovered later on! After that we then had breakfast at a diner-type place near the theatre and walked up 5th Avenue. We stopped off to look at the beautiful St Patrick's Cathedral and then had to navigate past the Trump Tower which was an absolute circus. The place was full of TV newsreaders, police officers, protesters, and tourists snapping photos. And after that we then went into the Rockefeller Center so we could see the incredible views at the Top of the Rock and then walked over to Central Park. We saw the Mall, the Bethesda Fountain, and Bow Bridge there and the park was so pretty with all of its autumnal colours :) We then stopped to have a drink at the Loeb Boathouse there (I remember having green tea) and then walked back to our hotel so we could change clothes and head back out to Broadway to see The Color Purple which was... oh my goodness it was honestly one of the most moving and inspiring things that I have ever seen in my life! Neither of us went into the musical knowing a huge amount about it and we were both completely blown away by it! Gah...!

4. I think Friday must have been the one with the most amount of walking judging by how exhausted we were by the end of it! First of all we took the subway down to Lower Manhattan so we could go to the Whitehall Terminal and ride the Staten Island Ferry that takes you past the Statue of Liberty. Once we got back we then walked up Broadway and stopped off to look at Trinity Church and Wall Street. Then we went to pay our respects at the 9/11 Memorial and eventually made our way over to the Brooklyn Bridge. We then walked the bridge and got off at the first exit to have a look around the Brooklyn Heights area. Apparently a lot of rich and famous people live around here and I can completely understand why as you get the most amazing views of Manhattan here and the houses are all just so beautiful! We walked around for a while in this area and then made our way back to the bridge so we could eat at the nearby Shake Shack and Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory (again, I had such good food on this trip!) After that we then walked back across the bridge and got on the subway to Union Square so I could stop off at the famous Strand Bookstore. I'd told my mum that it was only going to be a quick stop, as I already knew which books I wanted to get, but it took us ages to find the place because we got off at the wrong exit. I felt pretty guilty about it. Once I found the books I wanted (Rainbow Rowell's Attachments and Sarah Andersen's Adulthood is a Myth) we then got on the subway back to the hotel and that was the end of our day.

5. Saturday was our last full day in New York and we started off the day by getting the subway over to the Chelsea Market where I had a breakfast that consisted off macaroons at Bar Suzette and a red velvet cake at another place :D The Chelsea Market is only around the corner from an exit of the High Line so we then got onto it and walked that for a bit. After that we then got on the subway over to Soho to do some shopping. Soho is another beautiful area of the city and I managed to get some overalls at Top Shop and some Mac foundation at Bloomingdale's. By this point it was mid-afternoon and we then got back on the subway so we could go over to Williamsburg in Brooklyn which is where we spent the rest of the day: we had dinner at a lovely Italian restaurant called Diviera Drive and cocktails at a bar/cinema called Videology there before heading back to the hotel. Williamsburg is a great area with so many cool places to eat, drink and shop. Apparently it has a reputation for being full of hipsters but we didn't actually see any hipsters there at all! Brooklyn Heights and Williamsburg were actually my favourite places in New York. They're both such great areas and yet I saw hardly any tourists in these places: just local families and people out walking their dogs which I really loved. I felt like I was seeing the "real New York" :)

6. Sunday was officially our last day in New York although we really didn't have the time to do very much apart from having food at Ess-a-bagels which was just around the block from our hotel. I do kind of wish that we could have had a full week in New York to be honest - as I would have loved to have seen the MET Museum and some of Queens and maybe even gone out to the Hudson River Valley for a day trip - but I still had the time of my life in this city and I know I'll treasure this holiday forever! :) The weather was so mild when we were there as well and I was so impressed by how kind and helpful everyone was (New Yorkers are so much friendlier than their reputation!) and how diverse the city was.

7. So that's what I got up to in NYC basically! But I've also been reading some wonderful books over the past few months! The book that I'm currently reading is Richard Adams' Watership Down. It's actually a re-read for me as it's one of my favourite books from my childhood :) I figured that now would be a good time to re-read it as a combined BBC/Netflix adaptation of it is coming out next year (starring James McAvoy and John Boyega!) which I'm very excited about. Other books that I've read recently and loved but haven't yet got around to reviewing are:
  • The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson (the final novel in the original Mistborn trilogy) which left me an emotional mess! 
  • The first two novels in the Court of Thorns and Roses Saga by the hugely popular YA fantasy author Sarah J. Maas.
  • A stunning children's picture-book retelling of the East of the Sun, West of the Moon fairy tale.
  • A heartbreakingly beautiful novel set in WWII called The Lost Wife by Alyson Richman (which is getting a film adaptation with Daisy Ridley starring).
  • the audiobook of As You Wish by Cary Elwes (a hilarious and touching memoir about his experiences of making The Princess Bride).
8. A very surprising recent development is that I have finally started to like drinking coffee! I've been especially enjoying all of the festive coffees that I've been drinking over the past few weeks :)

9. I think most of my regular readers should already know that I'm a massive Star Wars fan and I finally got to see Rogue One last night. Overall I liked it but I didn't love it. Visually it's an incredibly beautiful film with a lot of action (the space battles are spectacular!) and I really liked that it introduced some more moral ambiguity into the Star Wars universe and that we got to see a lot of new planets in it. But I also can't help but feel that the film got too carried away with all its spectacle and planet-hopping and that we didn't get to know any of its characters properly. I felt that the characterisations and emotions got sacrificed and it's made me appreciate what The Force Awakens achieved even more. So yeah, I thought Rogue One was a very good, solid film with a lot of super cool moments but it didn't blow me away.

10. And that's pretty much it for me! I'm going to try to do a Top Ten Tuesday later in the month but this could well be my last post for this year. So just in case I'd like to wish everyone reading this a wonderful Christmas and end of year!