Saturday, 31 August 2019

Amsterdam – Travel Diary

Every year my mum and I go on a little city trip, just the two of us. This time we decided to go the Amsterdam. It’s just a little over an hour by plane, so not a big journey. 

We left early on a Tuesday morning and landed in Amsterdam at 9.00 am. We booked a hotel shuttle to our hotel, which wasn’t a great idea. It took forever and the driver was not very friendly. By 11.00 am we were at the hotel, our room wasn’t ready so we started exploring the city. Our walk took us over a fancy bridge close by to the Monttoren tower. They have some fab glass souvenirs there. Then we walked down parts of the shopping street, before getting a smoothie. Then the way led us to a different shopping street away from the centre. The weather was nice and sunny, but very windy, so the perfect weather for a little shopping. At Prinsengracht we had lunch at the Black Restaurant, it was delicious! Afterwards we walked down Prinsengracht to the nine stratjies, little shopping streets with boutiques and shops with Dutch brands. We didn’t find anything, but I loved browsing in them. Of course we had to try the famous van Wonderen waffles, I had the ones with Marshmallows, so good! We walked down to the Anne Frank house and then enjoyed a drink by the water. We were exhausted from all the walking and tired as well. I got up at four in the morning, so it was time to go to the hotel and sleep. 

On Wednesday the weather was pretty much the same as on Tuesday. We couldn’t get tickets for the Anne Frank house online (you have to book months in advance), but every day a certain amount is released again. You just go on the website and you are put on a waiting list. It moved quickly, but I wasn’t successful. Luckily, my mum was and we were able to get tickets. After breakfast we headed to the King’s palace, where there is a big square right in front of it. The streets surrounding it are full of shops as well, so we continued with some shopping before heading to “de Bijenkorf”, it’s the department store in the Netherlands. We had lunch first at their self serve restaurant called the kitchen. We had pizza, it was absolutely wonderful, the best I’ve ever had. Afterwards we spent a lot of time in the store itself. On to the next place: The Magna Plaza is something like a mall, beautiful from the outside, but the stores inside were really disappointing. The rest of the afternoon we just walked around and took some photos on bridges and around the water, also deciding on what boat tour to go on the next day. We also went to Westerkerk, because we wanted to go up the tower. We couldn’t, because they only have space for six people at the time, so we booked for the next evening. Then it was finally time to go to the Anne Frank House. You get an audio guide and then you can walk around the guided tour. There are also lots of pictures and explanations around. They even have some real letters and the diary. It was very interesting, especially to see these tiny rooms and hear how they had to live in there. For dinner we went back to “de Bijenkorf”, because it was so good. In the evening we just watched TV and went to bed early. 

On Thursday we headed to Ree7 for breakfast. One of my fellow potterheads suggested it to me and it was so yummy!!! Then we looked at some more shops around the 9 stratjies area and I found a lovely dress. From the Anne Frank house, we started our hop on hop off boat tour with circle lines Amsterdam. We wanted to get out in the Museum distract, but we missed our stop, so we did the whole tour and got off the next round. I was very hungry then, but we found some great photo spots first and the Rijksmuseum is gorgeous. It was hard to find a restaurant around there, but with a little bit of walking we found one, called Blushing. It had healthy food and it was hard to pick something. They also had some very yummy beer. Actually we planned to go to the Van Gogh museum after, but then we found a shopping street, oops ;). Afterwards we took the boat back to the centre and had a little break at the hotel, before heading to the Westerkerk tower for our tour. The walking up and down was quite adventurous, but it was totally worth it, the view is breath-taking. The guide told us a lot about the church, as well as Amsterdam. We were up there at the perfect time, right around sunset, the lighting was beautiful. We then had dinner at our hotel. 

Friday meant going out of the city for a little day trip to Haarlem. We picked up some breakfast at Starbucks and took the train from the main station. It’s so easy and trains leave every 10 minutes and the journey is only 15 minutes long. The centre of this little town is very close by, you don’t even need a map. The shops in Haarlem are a thousand times better than in Amsterdam, very unique, chic and trendy, I found some great things. We had lunch at by Lima, so good and the beers were amazing. We then walked around more, to this square, where they have a beautiful church. The town is full of little surprised and time flew by, when we decided to go into the church it was closed already. That’s why we walked to the wind mill called Adriaan (Molen de Adriaan). It’s the perfect place for a typical Holland photo. It’s by the water and there is a bridge, where they just put a bike, so fab!!! We also had dinner in Haarlem, before taking the train back and going to bed. 

Saturday was our last day already. We had breakfast in the room and packed our bags. Then we checked out and went to the king’s palace. We did an audio guided tour in there, it’s very pretty. Then it was time for lunch and we just couldn’t find a good place, until we passed this Italian place (Pane e Olivo), the best!!! Afterwards we walked down to Haarlemstraat, because we were told it’s full of great shops. Well, that was a disappointment, because we didn’t like the shops and also walked right into a demonstration. We just decided to walk back to the centre and found a little market square and did a little browsing there. With some little time left, we had another drink by the water and then had to go to the hotel to pick up our bags. Luckily, our shuttle driver was much nicer this time. He was from Scotland and we had a lot of fun with him. 

I enjoyed every second in Amsterdam, it’s a beautiful city with a lot to offer. We walked between 12 and 14 kilometres every day. The only thing that was annoying were all the bikers. Of course you hear about them, but it’s very extreme. They don’t follow any rules and get annoyed at pedestrians, just be careful when you’re there. 

I AMsterdam!!!

Tuesday, 20 August 2019

I Think I Love You – by Lauren Layne

The blurb: 

Brit Robbins knows that dating in New York City is hard—she just hoped to have it mastered by age thirty. But after yet another promising suitor says they have no sparks, Brit decides it’s time to torch her dating game and try a new plan. And who better to coach Brit through the art of seduction than the guy who first gave her the “let’s be friends” card?

Hunter Cross has always figured there’s nothing his best friend Brit can do to surprise him. But Brit’s request is a surprise he doesn’t see coming—and one he’s definitely not prepared for. Hunter and Brit have always been careful to keep things perfectly platonic, but the fake dates and faux flirting are starting to feel like the real deal. And soon Hunter realizes he has taught Brit too well. Not only has she become an expert at seduction, the man becoming thoroughly seduced is him.

My Opinion:

The fifth and last book of the Oxford series! Exciting and sad at the same time. This time we finally get to read about Brit’s and Hunter’s story. We know them from previous books and it’s clear that they are best friends. 

Brit Robbins fins it hard to find a boyfriend and fall in love. Guys seem to see her more as a friend. That’s when her friends suggest that she should learn how to seduce a man and who is better to teach her than Hunter?!

Well, he is not amused at first, but doesn’t want anyone else to do it either. The experiment starts and suddenly the share some pretty special and emotional moments. At first they don’t really know what to do with their feelings, but things change and passion takes over. I really loved reading about how their relationship developed. It was full of chemiszry, tension and explained in an exciting storyline. 

Of course there is an up and down and drama is included, but that made the story even more gripping. 

I know I say it every time, but catching up with the Stiletto and Oxford gang is always great. 

I really liked this story and I am said the series is over. A ten years later thing would be fabulous!!!


Lauren Layne on Twitter: @_LaurenLayne

Saturday, 17 August 2019

Kitzbühel - Travel Diary

I have never been to Kitzbühel, so I was really excited to go this summer. It's about a four-hour drive from central Switzerland.

We left on a Sunday in the morning and arrived in Ellmau (about 15 minutes from Kitzbühel) at around 1.30 pm. We had lunch at the "Wilder Kaiser" golf club. Wilder Kaiser is the name of the famous mountain in the Kitzbühel area, from the restaurant you have a great view of this impressive mountain. From there we headed to our hotel and checked in, went to the pool, area and enjoyed the sun, before going into the village. Obviously, all the shops were closed, but it's still very cute and lovely to walk around. After that, we had an early dinner in town, explored a bit more and spent the rest of the evening watching tv and reading.

On Monday we enjoyed breakfast and then headed to the Hahnenkammbahn, the gondolas, which took us up the Hahnenkamm. Kitzbühelmisnfamous for the ski races from that hill, especially the downhill, which is really impressive. In summer you can hike down the track and so we did. It starts up at the start house, where there are lots of information about the course, the winners and much more. You can actually stand in the starting bit and look down, the view is fab, but omg it's so steep. You then start walking down and there are certain parts pointed out along the track. It was interesting to see how different it looks without snow and it's crazy what these ski racers do. It's so steep and crazy, but I loved seeing everything. In between, we stopped at Seidelalm to enjoy a typical Austrian soup. I'm glad I walked all the way down, you definitely have to see that once in your life. In the afternoon we explored the village a bit more and hit some of the shops, before going to the Rasmushof for dinner. It's a small golf course, with the view of the skiing course and it's actually the finish area for the races. We had a yummy dinner, typical Schnitzel, so good!!! At the hotel we finally enjoyed our welcome drink, i
i had a Bellini. The lobby area is gorgeous and fab for the evening.

Tuesday started very rainily, so we took it slowly, enjoyed breakfast and then headed into town to go to some more shops. We also enjoyed a "semmel with leberkäs" for lunch, another typical dish from the area. I had mussle stiffness from the day before and then I twisted my ankle walking back to the hotel, that was not fun, the foot hurt for a while. In the afternoon we explored the area, went to Kirchberg and Reith. Kirchberg is very cute and we found a fab interior store in Reith. For dinner we went to another golf course, it's called Arosa, with a great view of Kitzbühel and the Wilde Kaiser. It has a lot of water, so it was a lot of fun watching the people play. In the evening we enjoyed the pool and spa area.

On Wednesday we had a slow start and my foot was still hurting. We drove to Kufstein, close to the German border and explored the little city. I found a great store called "The Sisters" and we looked at the fortress there. Luckily, there was a funicular to go up there, because walking was definitely not my favourite thing to do. We also had lunch in this cute town, before it started pouring down with rain. We then drove back to Kitzbühel and enjoyed the spa, before having a delicious dinner at the hotel. I had "Tafelspitz", which was excellent. 

Thursday was our last day, so we had breakfast and then checked out. On the way home, we first stopped in Hopfgarten a cute little village, with a beautiful church and then we also stopped in Innsbruck. A bit of sightseeing and shopping (didn't buy anything) and then we walked up the main tower to enjoy the view. My foot was better, but still swollen and red, so I wasn't happy (it was much better the day after, thank god). Afterwards, we had lunch and then an ice cream before taking on the rest of the journey. 

I absolutely loved these days in the mountains, it was very relaxing and there are so pretty places.  

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

I Knew You Were Trouble – by Lauren Layne

The blurb: 

Taylor Carr has it all—a sleek job in advertising, a stunning Manhattan apartment, and the perfect man to share it with: Bradley Calloway. Even after Bradley dumps her for a co-worker on move-in day, Taylor isn’t worried. She’ll get her man eventually. In the meantime, she needs a new roommate. Enter Nick Ballantine, career bartender, freelance writer—and longtime pain in Taylor’s ass. Sexy in a permanent five-o’clock-shadow kind of way, Nick knows how to push Taylor’s buttons, as if he could see right through to the real her.

Nick’s always trying to fix people, and nobody could use a good fixing more than Taylor. Sure, she’s gorgeous, with mesmerizing silver eyes, but it’s her vulnerability that kills him. Now that they’re shacking up together, the chemistry is out of control. Soon they’re putting every part of their two-bedroom apartment to good use. Then Taylor’s ex comes crawling back to her, and Nick figures she’ll jump at the chance to go back to her old life—unless he fights for the best thing that ever happened to him.

My Opinion:

On to book number four oft he Oxford series. Weg et to know Taylor and Nick in book three and let’s say ghey are not the best friends. 

Taylor gets dumped by Bradley (works for Oxford too and let’s be honest: I hate him), basically on the day they were supposed to move in together. She needs a new roommate now, so here comes Nick. He as a freelancer at Oxford magazine and also woks aa a bartender. They fight a lot and don’t really get along, but there is always a tension between them. 

Sparks fly between them and things get passionate and steamy. I really enjoyed these scenes and Lauren Layne captured it all beautifully. I really liked these two together and it was fab to see some characters reappearing. In the seroes and also the Stiletto series a lot pf them had their story shared aöready, so it’s not easy to include them again, but the author did a great job here. 

I really enjoyed the storyline and the drama in this book. I felt that things moved to quickily in the end and it was a bit rushed. 

Another great book in the series!


Lauren Layne on Twitter: @_LaurenLayne

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

Someone Like You – by Lauren Layne

The blurb: 

Lincoln Mathis doesn’t hide his reputation as Manhattan’s ultimate playboy. In fact, he cultivates it. But behind every flirtatious smile, each provocative quip, there’s a secret that Lincoln’s hiding from even his closest friends—a tragedy from his past that holds his heart quietly captive. Lincoln knows what he wants: someone like Daisy Sinclair, the sassy, off-limits bridesmaid he can’t take his eyes off at his best friend’s wedding. He also knows that she’s everything he can never have.

After a devastating divorce, Daisy doesn’t need anyone to warn her off the charming best man at her sister’s wedding. One look at the breathtakingly hot Lincoln Mathis and she knows that he’s exactly the type of man she should avoid. But when Daisy stumbles upon Lincoln’s secret, she realizes there’s more to the charming playboy than meets the eye. And suddenly Daisy and Lincoln find their lives helplessly entwined in a journey that will either heal their damaged souls . . . or destroy them forever.

My Opinion:

It’s finally time for Lincoln Mathis’ story. We got to know him over the past few books, so his reputation kind of precedes him. He comes across as a womanizer, who has a different girl every night. Well, in this book we get to know the real Lincoln.

He hides something behind his flirtatious smile, something not even his closest know. Only Daisy, the maid of honor he meets at Emma’s and Alex’s wedding, seems tob e able to crack his shell. 

Daisy is Emma Sinclaire’s twin sister and is told to stay away from Lincoln at the wedding. Botho f them kind of end up together at some point and spend a lot of time together. He opens up to her and shows her what he has been hiding for a while. She then goes back home to Charlotte. When Lincoln needs some time away his friends send him to Emma and of course their connection starts to get deeper and stronger. 

Daisy went through a divorce and isn’t used tot he New York lifestyle. She is always there for Lincoln, but izt’s not easy knowing the truth and he always runs away again. 

Their chemistry was captured by the author in a beautful and passionate way. I think they were great together and their ups and downs added a lot to the drama. The ending and the epilogue were more than I hoped they would be. I really liked that they both got to tell their view oft he story, it was very emotional and touching as well. 



Lauren Layne on Twitter: @_LaurenLayne

The Thunder Girls – by Melanie Blake

The blurb: 
Chrissie, Roxanne, Carly and Anita, an eighties pop sensation outselling and out-classing their competition. Until it all comes to an abrupt end and three of their careers are over, and so is their friendship.
Thirty years later, their old record label wants the band back together for a huge money-making concert. But the wounds are deep and some need this gig more than others.
In those decades apart life was far from the dream they were living as members of The Thunder Girls. Breakdowns, bankruptcy, addiction and divorce have been a constant part of their lives. They’ve been to hell and back, and some are still there.
Can the past be laid to rest for a price, or is there more to this reunion than any of them could possibly know? Whilst they all hunger for a taste of success a second time around, someone is plotting their downfall in the deadliest way possible . . .

My Opinion:

Book provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

I really loved the sound of this book from the start, sadly it didn’t live up to my expectations. It was very different to what I expected and that’s probably why I couldn’t get into this book. 

The idea of this book is fabulous, but the sparks just didn’t fly. Chrissie, Roxanne, Carly and Anitacome together again after 30 years for a concert of their band The Thunder Girls. 

This calls for a lot of drama and it certainly included a lot o fit. It was fab to get an inside to the world of showbiz and music, 
I couldn’t connect to the main characters though , which is a shame. I felt like they were not very well lined out and I struggled wanting to follow their steps. 

All in all, I enjoyed the story and it was an interesting read, but it was just not for me. 


Melanie Blake on Twitter: @MelanieBlakeUK
Goodreads - Amazon UK - Amazon US

Friday, 2 August 2019

I Wish You Were Mine – by Lauren Layne

The blurb:

A year ago, Jackson Burke was married to the love of his life and playing quarterback for the Texas Redhawks. Now he’s retired, courtesy of the car accident that ruined his career—and single, after a nasty scandal torpedoed his marriage. Just as he’s starting to get used to his new life as a health and fitness columnist for Oxford magazine, his unpredictable ex shows up on his doorstep in Manhattan. Jackson should be thrilled. But he can’t stop thinking about the one person who’s always been there for him, the one girl he could never have: her younger sister.

Mollie Carrington can’t say no to Madison. After all, her older sister practically raised her. So when Madison begs for help in winning her ex-husband back, Mollie’s just glad she got over her own crush on Jackson ages ago—or so she thought. Because as Mollie reconnects with Jackson, she quickly forgets all her reasons to stay loyal to her sister. Tempted by Jackson’s mellow drawl and cowboy good looks, Mollie is sick and tired of coming in second place. But she can’t win if she doesn’t play the game.

My Opinion:

We are back in the Oxford offices and this time we follow former quarterback Jackson Burke. He was forced to stop playing, because of an accident and is now working for Oxford magazine as a fitness editor. He doesn’t really want tob e in New York and is not talking to anyone. The others try to get him to go to lunch, but he always says know. 

Mollie Carrington has been in love with Jackson for a long time, however he was married to her sister Madison. Now they see each other again after about eight months and he finds himself offering her a room in his penthouse apartment. She is indecicive, but says yes eventually. The chemistry beween them is heating up quickly, the sparks are electric and they soon find themselves closer to each other than expected. I loved their scenes and moments, Lauren Layne did a fab job there. 

Jackson seems to hide some of his feelings and thoughts from her though and that leads to some drama. I really liked how it was all resolved in the end, the ending was just wonderful!

It’s also wonderful to always be able to catch up with the rest oft he Stiletto and Oxford gang. They are so amazing with each other and it’s so much fun to read about them again. 

LOVED this book!


Lauren Layne on Twitter: @_LaurenLayne