#Thursdaydoors – A beautiful church in New York #NYC #photos

I haven’t taken part in #Thursdaydoors hosted on Norm’s site for ages. When I spotted these beautiful church doors on an Uptown tour of New York, I knew they were a perfect specimen to showcase.

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I’m afraid I don’t remember the church name or exact location on the tour, maybe someone out there will recognise it? Here’s a few more shots to admire the craftsmanship of such a beautiful building.

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This is my last photo post from my recent New York holiday. Here’s the links for the rest…

Snowy Central Park

A tourist’s photo guide to New York

Beautiful buildings on the Uptown bus tour

Check them out and let me know what you think.

#Tuesdaybookblog #bookreview Eléonore by @Faith_theRivens #urbanfantasy

Eléonore by Faith Rivens is an action packed 178 page novella. It’s an urban fantasy with demons and a kickass heroine. How cool does she look in this brilliant book cover…

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I finished this late last night and have to say I was so disappointed because I wanted more!!!!

Before I go on about the book anymore, here’s the…

Blurb.

Eléonore Dormant’s life is a precarious balancing act: librarian by day, demon hunter by night and single mother around the clock. Each day brings its challenges and she brings her A-game. It helps that coffee and a bottle of painkillers are always in supply. For six years, she’s protected the streets of Montreal from all manner of demons and the consequent evil that they would wreak on her city. But even a resumé like hers isn’t enough to prepare her for the unforeseen night when she becomes the hunted. A sorcerer, an enigmatic Elder, has placed a hefty bounty on her head and the demons are eager to claim the reward for her capture. They bear down on her, disrupting her mode de vie and endangering her son’s life all in one fell swoop. But Eléonore is ready to fight whatever Hell deigns to send her way to save him. The path she pursues will lead her to new places and old faces. One thing is certain, Eléonore’s about to get into a whole hellhole of trouble.

My Review

I haven’t read Urban fantasy before, and now I realise I’ve been missing out.

The story flies along as one night Eléonore finds herself hunted by the demons she is usually so adept at killing. With a bounty on her head and her son’s life in danger, the tension really mounts with each chapter.

I really like the relationship between Eléonore and her friend Rosalie, and the love she feels for her son is well portrayed. My personal favourite though is the mysterious Raphael.

The feeling of place in this book is also perfectly written – Montreal comes alive and I’m not surprised to learn this is the authors hometown.

My only complaint – When’s the next book?

And on a smaller note – the word ‘hellhole’ turned up a bit too much for my liking. But when fighting demons, what better word is there!

I recommend this book to those who like fantasy and demon hunting action. And if you haven’t tried Urban fantasy before, give this one a shot. I’m sure you won’t regret it.

I rate this 5 stars.

#Weekendwanderings A tourist’s #photo guide to New York City #NYC

Last week I spent 4 days in New York City. It was surreal to be in the city that never sleeps, and I can tell you from my 4th storey hotel room that song lyric is true!

As my friend and I are both celebrating a big birthday this year, we left the kids at home and set off on an adventure. The 8 hour flight was turbulent and being stuck in my seat most of that time allowed me to watch 3 films! Luckily I’m a film junkie, and I enjoyed The Girl on the Train (review here), Inferno and Bridget Jones’s Baby.

Anyway, that’s the background to the trip, now for the photos.

The day before we arrived, New York had its first snow storm of the year. Everywhere was piled with snow.

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On our first trip out we visited Central Park. I really like the Christopher Columbus statue outside.

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I love the icicles and the scenes depicted below.

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Central park was magical under a layer of snow.

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Here’s my WordlessWednesday post of snowy pictures from Central Park.

There were plenty of quirky things to see as we walked around the city.

And this shot of Trump Towers proved popular on Instagram. There were armed body guards outside (hidden by the jeep in this picture) and NYPD across the street. There were also a couple of demonstrators with some very interesting drawings of the new president!

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The best way to see New York is on one of the many open top bus tours. These are fun and hassle free, even in the minus degree temperatures we experienced. On the Downtown tour I took a few shots of Time Square.

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These are best views I had of The Empire State building and the new World Trade Center on the bus. But you can hop on and off the bus tour at any stage to visit these iconic places.

Here’s the FBI headquarters…

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And this was impressive too

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Our bus ticket also included a free ferry trip past the Statue of Liberty, which was a must see attraction.

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The view of the city from the ferry was stunning, although I had to crop the pictures as there were peoples heads in the way.

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All around the city you can spot churches tucked in between the skyscrapers,

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and everywhere you looked were brilliant buildings like this one.

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Finally, we paid to go on the Top of the Rock at the Rockefeller Center. It had a 70th floor observation deck, although this was shut due to strong winds. The view was still magnificent from the 67th & 68th floors.

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On Wednesday I’ll share some pictures of the buildings in the Uptown New York bus tour. This had some of the most beautiful and exclusive buildings with views across Central Park.

#Film #Review The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins #thriller

I jumped at the chance of watching The Girl on the Train on my way to New York last week. Not only did I enjoy the audiobook of it last year (see my review here) but I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to get excited about my arrival in NYC.

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Initially I was surprised to hear they were changing the location from London to New York, but in the end I don’t think the setting played much part in the film – it could have been set anywhere. This turned out to be a disappointment during my flight to NYC, but the film was entertaining enough to take my mind off all the turbulence we experienced.

As far as I can remember, the script stuck mostly to the book. The scenes jumped around quite a lot, as they do in the book, but for some reason it’s easier to follow in the book. Even for someone who knows the story, I did find myself getting confused a couple of times.  I think this maybe because some of the story threads were not fully shown in the film, which is understandable in an adaptation.

I think Emily Blunt is a talented actress and she played a drunken Rachel Watson very well. All the acting in the film was good, although I don’t recall the detective in the book being as annoying as the one in the film.

The worse thing for me were the sex scenes. Although not explicit, it was terribly embarrassing to watch whilst sitting next to a complete stranger on the plane. Mind you, he was watching the American version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which also has plenty of sex scenes to blush over.

As far as entertainment goes, I enjoyed this film a lot and I recommend to those who love a mystery thriller.

I rate it 3.5 stars – the audio book got 4 stars.

Have you read the book, or listened to the audiobook? What do you think is best, book or film?

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If anyone is interested, here’s my pictures of a snowy Central Park last week. I also hope to post some more pictures of my weekend in NYC tomorrow.

#RBRT #Bookreview Self Serve Murder D E Haggerty #CosyMystery

I’m reviewing Self Serve Murder by D E Haggerty as part of Rosie’s Book Review Team.

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Blurb

Book 3 in the Death by Cupcake series. Can be read as a standalone.

Kristie is kind with a capital K, so it’s quite the surprise when she wakes up next to a dead man with no recollection of the previous night. Even worse? She’s naked. Kristie may be a sweetheart out to save the world, but sticking her nose into an investigation of rapes across campus makes her the target of a murderer. Before she knows it, Kristie is smack dab in the middle of a murder investigation with her colleagues Callie and Anna. If that’s not enough to drive a sane person up the wall, a friend has decided he’s going to keep her safe whether she wants him to or not. And, oh yeah, he’s her man and that’s that.

Come join us at Callie’s Cakes, where murder investigations are on the menu. You are most welcome, but you may need to serve yourself as our barista Kristie is busy trying to save the world.

Warning: Although there are plenty of moments that will make you shake your head and laugh at the antics of the ladies of Callie’s Cakes, the subject matter – rape on college campuses – is very real and somewhat darker than your usual cozy mystery.

My Review

First of all I love the colour of the cover! I like the design as well.

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I had no idea what to expect with this book as I’ve never read a cosy mystery before (watched plenty of TV shows though). It was clear from the start that this was not a serious mystery book, and once this is established it’s easy to sit back and enjoy the escape from reality.

I hadn’t read the previous two books in the series, but wasn’t worried as it stated this could be read as a standalone. The crime itself was resolved in this book, but because the characters are so settled in their world and relationships well established, I found myself wishing I had read the previous books first.

The constant reference to coffee was clever and inventive, but at times when the situations were more serious I found it distracting.

I thought I’d guessed the culprit early on, but a few red herrings along the way had me second guessing myself.

My only hang-up with this novel was the way the men treated ‘their’ women. The men were very bossy and macho all the time. I also found the way Kristie’s love interest literally forced his way into her life while she did little to stop it, very unrealistic.

Apart from that it was a fun, easy read and should appeal to people who enjoy cosy mysteries like Agatha Raisin, Murder She Wrote and Rosemary and Thyme (opinion based on tv viewing).

Note – I reviewed an ebook copy supplied by the author in exchange for an honest review.

I rate this book 3.5 stars (for the purposes of Amazon and goodreads I prefer to round it up to 4 stars).

Check it out on Goodreads

#Audio #bookreview Behind Closed Doors – B A Paris #thriller

Audio book review of Behind Closed Doors by B A Paris

Narrated by Georgia Maguire

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Blurb

Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace. He has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You might not want to like them, but you do.

You’d like to get to know Grace better.

But it’s difficult, because you realise Jack and Grace are never apart.

Some might call this true love. Others might ask why Grace never answers the phone. Or how she can never meet for coffee, even though she doesn’t work. How she can cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim. And why there are bars on one of the bedroom windows.

Sometimes, the perfect marriage is the perfect lie.

My Review

I don’t have much to say about this book except your HAVE to read it!

It was a totally addictive read / listen. I loved the story and the author achieved something that doesn’t normally happen when I read thrillers – I cared for the characters. I couldn’t help but feel for Grace in her impossible situation and hoped desperately that she would find a way out of the horror her life had become.

Switching between past and present, the story that unfolds is mesmerising and shows true evil at work. It would make a fantastic film.

The narration was perfect. And I can’t fault the plot. This book is a must for all thriller readers.

5 Big Fat Scary Stars

#Tuesdaybookblog #Bookreview Uprooted by Naomi Novik #fantasy

My book group chose Uprooted by Naomi Novik as the January read and I’m so happy they did!

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Blurb

Agnieszka loves her village, set deep in a peaceful valley. But the nearby enchanted forest casts a shadow over her home. Many have been lost to the Wood and none return unchanged. The villagers depend on an ageless wizard, the Dragon, to protect them from the forest’s dark magic. However, his help comes at a terrible price. One young village woman must serve him for ten years, leaving all they value behind.

Agnieszka fears her dearest friend Kasia will be picked at the next choosing, for she’s everything Agnieszka is not – beautiful, graceful and brave. Yet when the Dragon comes, it’s not Kasia he takes.

My review

Wow! Wow! Wow!

I loved this book from the very first page and didn’t want it to end. It’s the first book I’ve read by Namoi Novik and she is definitely an author I will be looking to read more of. As I stated above this was a book group choice and we had the biggest turnout ever for it (about 20 of us). Some loved it like me, some had a few issues but they all seemed to have enjoyed it.

Uprooted is a very easy read, the type of book you can devour in a day given the opportunity. I tried to stretch out the reading to savour it, but there were very few breaks in scenes so once I started reading, the book has its hooks in me and refused to let go.

This is a standalone novel, and I felt it worked perfectly as one. The title works on several levels and I love the simple, but brilliant cover design.

The magic was beautifully imagined; it was the star of the book for me. The woods were genuinely creepy and their menace was felt throughout the story.

The only downside for me was that I didn’t feel an emotional connection with the characters. I liked them, rooted for them, but was not immersed in the characters as much as I was their story.

A few times I felt Agnieszka was a little too naïve. She also discovered the means to defeat the enemy too easily. Her magic’s instinctive yes, but sometimes it felt a little too convenient.

This doesn’t detract from a masterful story. I will be recommending this book to everyone and can’t wait to read it again.

5 epic stars

Have you read it, and if so what did you think?

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A question for readers and writers:

This is the second book I’ve read this year that uses very few scene breaks. The action flows along so smoothly and without pause that even if you want to stop reading you can’t. I always thought shorter scenes with cliff hanger endings were the best way to hook your reader and keep them engaged. But those breaks do give the reader a chance to put the book down.

I want to know what you think about the two different techniques. What do you apply to your writing?  And readers, which type of books do you prefer?