Knackered by London (Part 1)

Blimey! After a long delay in Chicago, we finally made it to London about 12 hours after scheduled arrival. For the record, be cautious of sleeping pills for long overnight flights. About 30 minutes into the flight I took my Ambien ready to wake up refreshed in London, only to be startled awake two hours later back in Chicago with plane issues. I’m sure I looked like a crazy/drunk cat lady wandering around the airport and sleeping on a bench, but I digress.

I can’t really say much about Heathrow since we got there close to midnight and were exhausted. After some slight confusion, we found the right tube and headed towards our apartment. I know a lot of people prefer hotels, but after comparing prices, we decided to use Airbnb for both our stay in London and Paris. We spent about 5 nights in each location and this just ended up being much more economical for us. We also traveled very light with just a carry on and personal item each, so we enjoyed having a washer and dryer available.

I spent a lot of time researching for this trip. There are many amazing spots to stay in London. We aren’t big night life people, so we decided to stay on the South Bank. Our apartment was just around the corner from the Lambeth Station tube which worked great for my itinerary.  We were also within about a 10-15 minute walk of the London Eye and Big Ben. The apartment itself was very roomy, especially for Europe. As always, the kitchen and bathroom were on the small side. I didn’t have much trouble being petite, but my husband felt a little like Elf trying to use the shower.  We were on the top floor, and let me tell you, it was bollocks when you forgot your sunglasses and had to run back up. It was around 60 steps to the top!


If it’s your first trip to London, I would recommend a strong itinerary to get everything in during your visit. I ended up getting us the London Pass, just because so many places I wanted to see were included. The London Pass is pretty expensive, so I recommend breaking down the fees and tickets for everything you want to do and compare that to the cost of the London Pass. It was only slightly cheaper for us, but offered us a lot of convenience. It includes a tricky pound amount for the tube and bus systems, but with all of our riding around we only had to add a few pounds to make our last tube trip to the train station (for the next leg in Paris!).

There is so much to see, do and eat in London that I’m going to break this trip up into several posts. I’ll give you guys my exact itinerary, restaurants, and lots of pictures! Planning a trip should be fun, not a nightmare. Hopefully my experience can pave the way for a trip without potholes. I’ll start rolling things out, so check back frequently for the 411 on my London experience.



Where’d you go, Joe?

Greetings, readers! My catchy title has a double meaning. It’s been just over a year since I’ve written a blog post……so where have I been? Unfortunately life takes over and I simply pushed you guys to the side. It’s been a hectic year with work and I wasn’t really doing that much reading. I’m hoping to change that in the upcoming year.

On the flip side, I have literally been lots of places the last year! Lucky for you, I have some amazing posts to start sharing about my journeys far and wide. As I’ve said, traveling and reading are my two favorite hobbies. There is so much adventure to be had in far-off places as well as in your own living room diving into a book. I’m content with either. Just so you have an idea of what’s to come, prepare to be dazzled by pastry classes in Paris, mettwurst in Hamburg, and the most amazing butter cake in Phoenix. And that’s just the food! I’ll dive into all my favorite things, and some of the more shady stuff, from all of my adventures. I’m already plotting my next overseas holiday.


So until next time, keep reading and living your lives to the fullest. Check in with me soon for some travel and/or book advice.



Beautiful Disaster by Jamie Mcguire Review


beautiful disaster amazon


The new Abby Abernathy is a good girl. She doesn’t drink or swear, and she has the appropriate number of cardigans in her wardrobe. Abby believes she has enough distance from the darkness of her past, but when she arrives at college with her best friend, her path to a new beginning is quickly challenged by Eastern University’s Walking One-Night Stand.
Travis Maddox, lean, cut, and covered in tattoos, is exactly what Abby wants—and needs—to avoid. He spends his nights winning money in a floating fight ring, and his days as the ultimate college campus charmer. Intrigued by Abby’s resistance to his appeal, Travis tricks her into his daily life with a simple bet. If he loses, he must remain abstinent for a month. If Abby loses, she must live in Travis’s apartment for the same amount of time. Either way, Travis has no idea that he has met his match.

Sheesh! This book was a roller coaster. Initially beginning as your typical good-girl-meets-bad-boy, Beautiful Disaster quickly unfolds into much more. Somewhat slow at times, this book was an enjoyable read. To be honest, I didn’t overly care for the larger than life twist that comes towards the end. I found it a bit too unbelievable and I did not enjoy much of the book beyond that. Likewise, I did not finish Walking Disaster, which is Travis’ point of view of Beautiful Disaster. Personally, the story just grew tiresome for me.

I will say, the meet-cute and interactions of Travis and Abby are great. It’s everything you would want from a romantic story. You’re left begging for more of them together. Sometimes I’m probably just too picky. Thousands of readers adore this book, but I can’t seem to get past my lukewarm feelings. However, I would read more from Jamie Mcguire in the future. Maybe we haven’t seen the last of Abby and Travis.


Enforce by Rachel Van Dyken Review


I was ecstatic to learn Rachel Van Dyken had a new book out from her brilliant Eagle Elite series. Then I realized Enforce is a different perspective of the first book in the series, Elite. I’ve gotta say I was skeptical of the whole flip-side of the same story. She blew me out of the water.

Just like Elite, I was completely and utterly engrossed. Even knowing where the story was headed, I couldn’t wait to see what new insight I could gain from the other characters. It gives you a better look at why each supporting character acts the way they do and what lead them to the people they are now.

If you haven’t read the series, then I would pick up this book or Elite to get you started. Personally, I like Trace’s point of view first in Elite, but either book can stand on its own. I’m already looking forward to the next book in this series, Ember. Van Dyken never fails to deliver a superb and all-consuming story.


Christmas in New York

Christmas is a magical time of year. It can only be made better by spending it in an equally magical place like New York City. Few places do Christmas on a more grand scale than NYC. Christmas is absolutely oozing at every turn. It’s a Christmas lover’s dream, or incidentally the Grinch’s worst nightmare. I happen to love Christmas, just not the crowds. Oh the crowds! But I digress. Let’s get started on the joys of Christmas in New York.


What trip to New York is complete without a visit to fabulous Macy’s??? We enjoyed some hot chocolate and a delicious Belgium waffle at Wafels & Dinges before venturing over to check out the displays. If you don’t locate a Wafels & Dinges food truck while visiting NY, then you are CRAZY. I’ve been ruined on all other waffles for life. No other waffle has that perfect amount of chewiness and crunchiness with all the dinges (toppings for you laymen) you could possibly want. Including delicious and addicting speculoos butter. Yummmm!!!

Back to Macy’s! The decorations are out of this world, which also seemed to be the theme this year. People are lined up to look at their display windows out front. After perusing the window displays in the freezing cold, head inside to see what’s in store this year. Each year Macy’s changes all their displays. Even the inside has beautiful decorations hanging from the ceiling. Oy! with the crowds again. I wouldn’t recommend actually attempting to shop unless you have a death wish. If you’ve never visited Macy’s on 34th street, then you’ll definitely wanna take a step back in time and ride their original wooden escalators. Macy’s is truly a Christmas experience.

If you are looking to do some Christmas shopping on your trip, 5th Avenue seems to be the place. Shoppers line the streets with bags from Lorde & Taylor, Tiffany, Saks and any other place you an imagine. After a full day of shopping, take a detour and head over to Rockefeller Center to see this year’s Christmas tree. Just be prepared to fight the crowds to get your picture for next year’s holiday card.


No trip to New York is complete without a trip to Broadway. This one was extra special because we saw Hugh Jackman perform in The River. I am in LOVE with Hugh Jackman. The story itself was somewhat confusing and not particularly my cup of tea. However, he more than made for it with his charisma and charm. Front row with Wolverine for two hours? Money well spent.


There are so many more things to do in New York at Christmas. These are just the highlights from our trip. There’s also iceskating, the Rockettes, pop-up Christmas shops, etc. The list is endless. The key is to find some things that pique your interest and then you can’t go wrong.

Belated Happy Holidays,



Vicious by Sara Shepard Review



The end is here! I absolutely loved this series, but like all good things, it must come to an end. The Pretty Little Liars books have had their ups and downs.  I really feel like Sara Shepard ended the series on a high note.  Like the world, I like things wrapped up in a neat and perfect bow. Shepard did not disappoint me.

We last left Hanna, Aria, Emily and Spencer facing trial for the murder of Ali. Dum, dum, duuuuuuuu. I like to avoid spoilers with these reviews, so I can’t divulge too much. If you’ve followed the series this far, it’s entirely worth the read. Things unfold quickly, so try to keep up and not cry too many tears when you reach the end. For now I’ll have to get my PLL fix from the television series, which is also A-mazing (see what I did there ;).

Merry Christmas, 

If I Stay/Where She Went by Gayle Forman Review

if where combo


In the blink of an eye everything changes. Seventeen ­year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall what happened afterwards, watching her own damaged body being taken from the wreck. Little by little she struggles to put together the pieces- to figure out what she has lost, what she has left, and the very difficult choice she must make. Heartwrenchingly beautiful, this will change the way you look at life, love, and family.


Hello, all! Long time, no see. I’m still here, reading and traveling. Unfortunately, I’m also working and busy with all things life. I haven’t managed a lot of reading lately, but I’ve tried to squeeze some in.  These two books weren’t on the top of my reading list, but I gave them a go anyway after seeing a million previews for the movie version of If I Stay (which, of course, can’t be nearly as good as the book).

I went into If I Stay knowing it was going to be heartbreaking. I’m definitely more emotional and touched by things the older I get. Even a poignant moment in Scandal can get me misty-eyed, but I digress.  Almost immediately Mia loses her family in a tragic accident. We learn this through Mia’s eyes as she battles for her life, not in this world or the next. But is she really battling for her life? Or is she battling with herself? Mia’s struggle within herself is the whole premise of this story. She is left with the choice of dying and reuniting with her family, or living with the pain of their loss.

This is a truly gut-wrenching story. That’s probably why so many people are drawn to it. In an instant, everything can change. Your whole life can be turned on its head. How you deal with it may be what defines your entire life. Where She Went, obviously, continues Mia’s story. These aren’t amazing, read-me-over-and-over books, but they are worth reading at least once for the thoughts they can provoke. Life is fleeting. How will you choose to live yours?



Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead Review (Spoiler Free!)

silver shadows

For Sydney, trapped and surrounded by adversaries, life becomes a daily struggle to hold on to her identity and the memories of those she loves. Meanwhile, Adrian clings to hope in the face of those who tell him Sydney is a lost cause, but the battle proves daunting as old demons and new temptations begin to seize hold of him. . . .

Has everyone else been waiting as long as me to get their hands on this book??? I have to say that I loved it. I’ve never really been as invested in the Adrian/Sydney story story as I am Rose/Dimitri. I get a little flushed just thinking about Dimitri….*swoon*. That being said, I loved Adrian a bit more as I kept reading.

To ensure this post is spoiler free, I will keep it short. If you’ve enjoyed Mead’s books in the past, you will not be disappointed. This book continues her work flawlessly and, of course, leaves a heck of a cliffhanger. I’m only sad the next installment will be her last in this series.


Turks & Caicos, Part 1


Hello, all! As promised, I am starting my traveling series. Our first stop? Fabulous Turks & Caicos. In case you aren’t sure, Turks & Caicos is located on the end of the Bahama chain of islands in the Caribbean.  It was a short flight for us here in Nashville, as I’m sure it is for most east coasters. Definitely a plus if you’ve traveled to anywhere in the Pacific. I get the worst jet lag!

Turks Collage

For this trip we stayed at Seven Stars Resort on Grace Bay in Providenciales. There are tons of places to stay and they are all beautiful. We were very pleased with Seven Stars. Not only do they offer free Wi-fi (who can live without this???), but they also offer many free beach amenities as well. Beach and pool lounge chairs, including umbrellas, are all included with your stay. They have complimentary use of our Hobie Cats, kayaks, surfboards (or paddle boards, like us), snorkeling equipment and pool floats. This is a huge plus. Here in the states, they charge an arm and a leg for stuff like this. We did pay to do a snorkeling excursion, but Turks boasts an amazing reef for snorkeling and scuba diving. And if you find a conch, which I did, you get to keep it. Have you seen a better souvenir??

As you can see in the pictures below, Turks & Caicos offers amazing water color and clarity. We were able to see the bottom as far out as we could walk. I really don’t think I have seen a more picture perfect beach with beautiful turquoise water. Nothing was overcrowded as far as we could see in either direction. They have the water roped off for a swim zone and activities within or beyond that. As you can see, we took advantage of several of the free amenities. Having tried paddle boarding in Waikiki, Turks & Caicos is much more friendly to the flat-water paddle boarder. Obviously we only get to practice on lakes here in Nashville. If you’re adventurous like us, Seven Stars offers a great way to do a lot of activities but not have to pay for them individually.

Turks Adventures

The location of Seven Stars was a huge plus. There was a grocery store just down the street. We love to eat out, as you’ll see in Part 2 of Turks, but it’s nice to have snacks and drinks available in your room. We struggled with this in Aruba, so we couldn’t have been happier to walk to the store on our first day to stock up.

There isn’t a lot of traditional shopping in Turks, but plenty of souvenir shops. We always look for pint glasses, for my husband, and mugs, for me. Some of the items were a little pricey, but typical for tourist destinations. All the shops we visited were within walking distance to Seven Stars simply because we chose not to do a rental car. I don’t think there was anything I had in mind to bring back that we were not able to find. And trust me, I love to shop.

Look for all of our food ventures in Part 2 of Turks and Caicos which is coming soon.


City of Bones Movie Review

Better late than never, right? So I never quite made it to see this movie in theaters. I couldn’t convince my husband (or myself, really) that it was worth it. I was probably right.

Let me preface this by saying it’s been a while since I read a Shadowhunter book. Having read all of The Mortal Instruments (currently out) as well as The Infernal Devices, this movie was confusing. So many things just weren’t explained or they were drawn out. I understand that with a movie there are time constraints that authors don’t have to deal with when writing books. However, if I hadn’t read the books, I would have been completely lost.  I was a little lost just having been months out from the books.

That being said, it was overall enjoyable. I love bringing characters to life and seeing them on screen. Lily Collins is great as Clary, and I can definitely see why she is up and coming in Hollywood.  Jace wasn’t my personal cup of tea, but I’ve heard the girls swoon. Perhaps it’s my old lady syndrome shining through. Something tells me Hugh Jackman couldn’t have pulled it off (yes, he’s my favorite).  Still, some Wolverine might have helped this movie. There is just too much vital information in the books that can’t reach the big screen. I feel like the heart of the books wasn’t alive here.

I haven’t heard wether or not any of the following books are to be adapted, but I highly hope so. I love anything that will get people interested in reading. Movie adaptations are great for that. Book sales go through the roof when something hits theaters. Personally, I like to see if the movie can measure up to my imaginative mind. So far, I’m a tough cookie.