Gallivanting Stateside

New York, New York: so good they named it twice. Can I name it a third time, or is that a bit excessive?

For our 21st birthdays, my friend Anna and I whisked ourselves off for a 5-night stop in the Big Apple. Having never been before, we decided to take the proper tourist-y approach of exploring the city (although I’d love to go back and be able to experience life as a ‘proper’ New Yorker someday). It’s now been over a month since the trip, so I thought I’d tell you all about it, share some of the best photos I took and melt into a little puddle of post-holiday sadness.

For starters, neither of us had ever travelled long-haul, so the flight in itself was a source of great excitement. We only experienced a little bit of turbulence (they must’ve known I’m a nevous flyer!), and spent the flight watching the in-flight films (The Theory of Everything for me, Gravity for Anna) and playing Sudoku.

Staying on Times Square was also so, so handy, and really helped us get into the spirit of things even though the jet lag was kicking in! The first thing we did was head to the Starbucks opposite the hotel (I know, I know) and take our drinks to sit on the Times Square steps. Cliché, but when being a tourist in New York it’s got to be done.

Over the five days we explored as much of Manhatten as possible with the help of our subway passes and our tired little feet. We went to the Top of the Rock, up the Empire State, saw Phantom of the Opera on Broadway, cycled and rowed around Central Park on a beautifully sunny day, visited the Statue of Liberty on a boat tour and immersed ourselves in the 9/11 Memorial Museum, Ground Zero.

Defeatzza

We also made the most of the food NYC has to offer. We ate at a mixture of chain restaurants (and let me here say how much I wish we had an Olive Garden in the UK because it was incredible) and little hidden gems we found on our travels – particularly a lovely little bagel house in SoHo (here’s their website – if you’re ever around I highly recommend!) and on our last night, a pizza place called John’s of Times Square, which used to be a church and has a really lovely vibe (and stupidly huge pizza). We also stumbled across a food festival in Little Italy where I tried deep fried Oreos – better than you’d expect – and ate the best street food of hotdogs and pretzels.

Finally, the shopping. We frequented the Sephora on Times Square more than once, and scheduled in visits to Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s. Anna even managed to pick up a gorgeous Kate Spade bag for $50 off! I may or may not have dropped $200 on make up while we were there, but I really don’t regret it. I’ve never looked so fab.

On our final night we went to the View in the Marriott on Times Square for a few last-night cocktails. It’s on the 48th floor (I think!) and revolves ever so slowly to give you a full scope of NYC views. The napkins are really helpfully printed with what you’re looking at from which direction – if only I could show you the one I snaffled on our way out, but it’s stapled into my little New York scrapbook. Yes, I’m *that* person.

In what seemed like 5 minutes, we were boarding the plane at Newark to come home. I still can’t believe I’ve been, and would go back in a heartbeat. If you’ve been, I’m sure you’ll know what I mean!

Until next time,

Emma

The Book of Tomorrow by Cecelia Ahern | An Honest Review

I went into The Book of Tomorrow with pretty high expectations. I loved P.S. I Love You, and *adored* Where Rainbows End – it’s still one of my favourite books of all time. Romance novels and general chick lit-ty goodness tend to appear on my bookshelves without me really noticing it, so I picked TBOT up earlier in the summer to keep me occupied on a train. I liked the look of the cover and the premise enticed me. I was interested to see where Ahern would take it!

The Book of Tomorrow follows Tamara Goodwin, a fifteen-year-old who moves to a remote part of the Irish countryside following the sudden death of her father, along with her mentally unstable mother, to stay with Tamara’s aunt Rosaleen and uncle Arthur. Aboard a book van which routinely appears in the village, Tamara finds a journal, seemingly completely blank – until entries dated the following day begin to crop up in Tamara’s handwriting. Throughout the story, Tamara uses these entries to shape her choices, improve her character and eventually solve the mystery of the ruined castle situated in the grounds of Arthur’s gatehouse.

Sadly, the book didn’t quite live up to expectations. I still think the premise is brilliant. However, I thought the journal would be more of a central feature, where it just wasn’t. In parts, it seemed to be there merely to push the story forwards in parts where the narrative became repetitive and slow (more on that in a sec). Rather than exploring the potential of a journal with these sort of fortune-telling powers, the story focuses more on Tamara’s encounters with two love interests and her conversations with Rosaleen and her mum, both of which were incredibly same-y day in, day out. Admittedly it was a great way to create a stagnant atmosphere, which was maybe Ahern’s intention to show the contrast between Tamara’s once luxurious, flashy lifestyle of sex, drugs and partying, and the lonely life she leads in the gatehouse.

Now, the pace. I felt as though I was plodding through The Book of Tomorrow, until the last few chapters where all the mysteries are wrapped up and revelations occur left, right and centre. I liked the ending of this book. The novel certainly went out with a bang and didn’t fade to black with a load of unanswered questions, which I appreciated. That being said, I did feel as though all these answers were just being fed to me to get them out of the way. There were subtle hints and clues dropped throughout the chapters, but this didn’t stop the ending from feeling rushed.

My final little nark with this book is that I really, really wanted to like Tamara. I tried. Finishing a book is always more emotional when you’ve been rooting for the protagonist, and I didn’t get that here. Tamara, to me, seemed to be a parody of how some adults perceive 16 year olds. Her language switched from English to American quite frequently, which was difficult to adjust to – particularly with colloquialisms such as ‘totally’, which were jarring to read. Maybe this is more of a person niggle, but I felt as though I couldn’t relate to Tamara as a UK 16 year old at all. At 16, I was nothing like Tamara, and didn’t know anyone like her either.

It wasn’t all bad, though. As far as chick lit goes, the fantastical twist was nice and as I’ve said, the journal was such an interesting motif. The Book of Tomorrow is very readable – I read the majority of it in one sitting on the train! If you can overlook these flaws, it’s still a bit of a page turner. I also loved the inclusion of Sister Ignatius, who provided a bit of light relief from the darker themes of the book and was overall a heartwarming, likeable character.

I’d recommend giving Ahern’s other books a read first, if you’ve never ventured into her works before. This one was okay, I guess, but it’s not a story that stuck with me after I’d finished it.

Emma x

A Note from Past Me

(disclaimer: I wrote this on the 8th of September, 2015. This isn’t even the half of it wrt how long this blog has been in the pipeline! Old habits die hard. I’m also slightly less covered in milk these days.)

As I write this, I’m nine days away from heading off to New York and two days into my new life as a barista. I’m well aware that by the time this blog comes to fruition, and you’re actually reading this, all talk of America will leave me in a little puddle of post-holiday sadness and I’ll (hopefully) be a lot better at barista-ing. I just thought it’d be fun to talk to me-from-the-future while me-from-the-past dithers over launching her damn blog.

We’ll talk about New York once I’ve been (not that the time scale means much to you). For now, coffee!

Two days down and I’m between the stage of being a total newbie who knows absolutely nothing, and a proper employee who knows absolutely everything. I know a little about a lot. At 9am this morning, for instance, I successfully covered myself in milk after unsuccessfully attempting to steam it. We’re talking hair, arm, shirt, glasses coverage and even some in the eye for good measure. Still not sure how I wasn’t burnt in any way because the milk was at about 120 degrees, but let’s just call it beginner’s luck and move on. By the end of my shift I’d sort of got the nack for it. It’s early days though, so if you ever come across me at work and I’m covered in milk, don’t look concerned. Or surprised.

I thought it’d be fun to leave little updates on my struggle through the awkward teething phase of Learning How To Do My Job. For someone that’s never worked in food service before I can safely say it’s going haphazardly.

Until next time,

Emma

 

An Introduction

Iya.
I’m Emma, I’m 21 with a 2:1 and not too sure where to go from here.

By reading this post you’re bearing witness to the beginning of my second blogging attempt. Without meaning to sound like I’m sucking the excitement of blogging dry – but managing to do so all the same – I found myself in a bit of a rut with my previous home (at emmarobyn.wordpress.com, if you’re interested, it’s all still there for your viewing pleasure), and decided the only way to overcome blogger’s block was to start afresh. I’d planned to spend this summer blogging at least every other day, and I had – have got! – so many ideas. Unfortunately, every time I went to write a post, the words just wouldn’t come. Team this with two months of unemployment, a turbulent home life and dealing with the reality of having graduated university, and you’ve got yourself a pretty miserable cocktail. Bleh.

Luckily, things seem to be on the up. I’ve recently landed myself a job (not a graduate job just yet, don’t be silly, I’m not *that* proactive) and with time I’ve been able to adjust to living at home once more. Hopefully this’ll be reflected in my posts, and you’re more than welcome on the journey with me to find out!

If you’re sticking around, you can look forward to booky bits, lifestyle updates you probably didn’t ask for and a positive outlook on even the most dreary of things. I’m a cat and coffee enthusiast, lover of trying new things and I’d love to have a book published someday but ssh, that one’s a secret.

I hope you enjoy your stay!

Emma x