[DIARY] GOODBYE SINGAPORE AIRLINES

Ending my career as a stewardess was perhaps the best decision I’ve made this year. Letting go of this comfort zone I had (unfortunately) sunk into for the past 2 years involved lots of anxiety, doubt, and inevitable thoughts of missing the globetrotting lifestyle. Nevertheless I made my decision quickly and set my heart for the big change when the opportunity to work as a media analyst came. There were spurts of excitement and also joy at finally stepping into an industry I might actually have a genuine interest in.

“You must make a decision that you are going to move on. It wont happen automatically. You will have to rise up and say, ‘I don’t care how hard this is, I don’t care how disappointed I am, I’m not going to let this get the best of me. I’m moving on with my life.”
― Joel Osteen, Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential

Mixed feelings aside, one must always look ahead and move on in life. Thinking back, it was a whirlwind of fun & adventure being a cabin crew at one of the world’s ‘best airlines”. Work was hard, schedules could be crazy, rosters were sometimes bad, and there were months I went without meeting friends outside of the airlines industry… BUT I don’t and will never regret these two+ years with SIA. This insightful journey was exhilarating, at times excruciating, and came with many lessons to be learnt.

Things I already miss:

1. Job title: FLIGHT STEWARDESS.
Onboard, I’ve been called by many other names: Miss, Li, Darling, Sweetheart, Eh, Excuse Me, Hello, Auntie, Jiejie, and nonverbal gestures such passengers pulling my kebaya or waving their hands wildly in the air to get my attention.

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2. The Singapore Girl hairdo.
Despite the strict grooming guide, there are as many variations as there are flight stewardesses in SIA. Seniority (on first impression) is based on the height of your hump (that height-enhancing bump on your head, derived from resemblances to camel humps). I actually miss this fuss-free chignon – when I mean fuss-free I refer to not having hair all over my face, not time taken to prepare.

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3. Quintessentially, HEAVY DUTY MAKEUP.
For long flights we can wear them up to 18 hrs (14hr flight time + 2hr reporting time + 1 hr preparation at home + 1hr travelling from airport to hotel after touchdown). The worst thing is: falling asleep without removing them! This is why I grew so unaccustomed to my own bare face.

4. PARIS. LONDON. ZURICH. GREECE.
Oh the places you’ll go, without ever having to take any work home. Once we touchdown at the destination, HOLA FREEDOM until the wake-up call for your next flight sector. I’m happy to say I’ve touched all corners of the earth that SIA goes to, and have them all Instagram-Mapped.

EIFFEL TOWER PARIS TRAVEL BLOG sia

5. Hotels
Every flight was somewhat a vacay. Stepping into a freshly-laundered room with a hot bath and clean sheet (though sometimes tiny/musky-smelling less-than-4-star closet of a hotel room) after a tiring flight is the best feeling ever. Hence the perpetual reluctance to check out.

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6. Hotel room selfies. Ha.

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7. Living out of a suitcase – bursting or not, that bitch needs to be closed. It’s a woe for many stewardesses especially on long-haul.

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8. Coffee in the morning, coffee in the noon and coffee any time of day, because jet lag demands to be fed with caffeine. Truth is, I can drink 2 shots and still sleep for forever.

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9. “Bragging Rights”
Friend, at dinner: “So what did you have for breakfast this morning?”
Me, casually: “Injeolmi Bingsoo from this place in Hongdae, Korea.”
Trust me, I am not bragging. Just stating the facts, you asked for it.
Breakfast in another time zone, lunch 35000 feet in the skies, and dinner in Singapore.

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10. The skies. And the familiar wings we see from our crew seats when we look out from the windows. The one below was taken out flying out from Singapore Changi Airport. The following three were taken enroute Houston from Moscow, so you can see Greenland.

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11. Behind-the-scenes Crazy
Well, stewardesses have all the fun…when you’re sleeping and we’re trying to stay awake on a red-eye flight. Oh…and these girls!! Cutest and sweetest little darlings ever.
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12. Coming home.
The word ‘home’ takes on a whole new meaning, when it’s all you’re thinking of the moment you set foot on an aircraft bound for foreign territories.

A little over a month, people still ask if I miss flying. Well if you’ve been at it for 2 years, day in day out, you’re bound to feel a sense of loss. As it is for any kind of job and lifestyle. The only thing I actually really started to miss were the chirpy greetings I received from passengers when I greet them upon coming aboard, the genuine thank yous upon rendering assistance wherever I could, the adrenaline rush when we had a ton of duties we needed to complete and the eventual sweat-wiping relief when it’s all over. And the camaraderie over the years with a few colleagues. When we donned our kebaya, we were told to ‘smile at anything that moves’ – we would hold doors and lifts for people, greet people we don’t know, and talk to people we’ve never met – all without garnering weird looks. Try holding a door for someone in Singapore – you might get ‘thank you’ with an awkward look at best, or even ignored for your effort. Smile at a stranger, and be labelled a psycho. Greet someone in the lift, and end up taking the lift up alone. A well-mannered bunch we as stewards and stewardesses are – after all we are in the service industry. But we don’t always get the same respect and treatment in or out of the uniform.

Also, I was exposed to many kinds of teamwork & leadership (through observations, not actual leading), plus gained a kind of worldly experience that isn’t of the bragging sort. There’s never an end to how much of the world we can see. From big metropolitan cities with world-class airports to less-developed rural areas where drinking tap water gave me gastroenteritis for weeks, and where small girls on the streets wanted to take photos with a group of us just because our skin colour was different from theirs – they’ve never seen fair-skinned people in their lives.

I became a stewardess for the freedom, experience and a change of lifestyle. I never regretted, even as I was dying to leave the job. The job gave me loads of reasons to look back and smile. You’re meant to live your life in your 20s before youth slips away!

Once a Singapore Girl, Always a Singapore Girl. I still feel nostalgic at an SIA ad, or when I see an SIA aircraft landing or see ex-colleagues at the airport heading for flight or just coming back home.

singapore girl SIA kebaya

 

Well, this is goodbye! I’ve clipped my wings and started a new chapter in life.

xoxo,

Viktoria Jean

[PARIS] oo8.GALERIES LAFAYETTE

And Paris is a woman’s town, with flowers in her hair;
– Henry van Dyke

A full-blown visual tour of Galeries Lafayette’s gorgeous interior: other than to gush over luxury goods I took the liberty of snapping otherwise passed-over gush-worthy details. Has anybody ever really highlighted the architectural wonder that is this shopping mall?

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Top-storey view: gorgeous and lofty. You could pretty much see a 360 of Paris.

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xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[PARIS] oo7.CARETTE

“When good Americans die, they go to Paris,’ the ghost said, after taking a drag on a small cigarette.”
― Karen Chance, Embrace the Night

The sky decided on delivering a full-blown shower and a trio of very drenched Paris Explorers braved their way on foot across the Eiffel Tower and towards Trocadero. Pretty much everywhere in Paris’ city centre you’ll be able to locate patisseries and cafes that are great for alfresco-dining.

A walking distance from Tour de Eiffel is The Carette Paris where locals and tourists alike can be seen nursing a cuppa, having pre-dinner drinks along the pavement portico, or enjoying a full-course dinner in its premises. Its interior decor is made up of beautiful pristine whites in stark contrast to the red velvet cushions and dark brown mahogany woods of their lounges and seats, which in my opinion is the classiest interior colour combination ever.

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Dinner was: iced chocolate, almond and cinnamon infused hot milk, a slice of insanely rich opera cake, a piping hot onion and cheese soup as well as assorted macarons!P1070099

A handful of pistachio, raspberry, dark chocolate and sea salt caramel, rose, and fudge cake macarons. My favourite was the pistachio. So yummy! ^^ See how Paris has spoilt me on the dessert front? Overloading on good pastries is a given when in Paris! They have an impressive collection of macarons on offer, you can never taste them all.
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And then there was this: the opera cake. I can never have another coffee/chocolate cake without thinking of this one.
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xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[PARIS] oo5.LÉON DE BRUXELLES

You know you’re in love with restaurant in a foreign land when you visit twice in 2 days, and already miss having it the moment your plate is clean. This was Lèon de Bruxelles for us, having found love in pots of garnished mussels in delectable broths and platters filled with basil sauce and melted mozzarella.

I know I’m definitely in love with Lèon’s cappucino with fresh whipped cream, meridional mussels’ gratin, creme brûlée, and waffles! For the curious, please do sneak a peek at their menu. I swear all this travelling spoils my appetite for food.

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xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[PARIS] oo4.PONT DES ARTS LOVELOCK BRIDGE

“But Paris was a very old city and we were young and nothing was simple there,
not even poverty, nor sudden money,
nor the moonlight, nor right and wrong
nor the breathing of someone who lay beside you in the moonlight.”
― Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast: The Restored Edition

So we found two very different bridges padded with lovelocks of all shapes and sizes – symbols of timeless promises and devotion to one’s significant other-halves. The first one, Vedettes du Pont Neuf, was tucked away in a corner along La Seine (so if you walked down Notre-Dame to the Louvre you’ll see it on your right-hand side). Unlike the more popular lovelock bridge at Pont des Arts, this one hasn’t collapsed.

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Who could resist not taking selfies in Paris? Couples wishing to locate a spot for their locks will find a better chance at this place, and the view of La Seine is equally if not more breathtaking (sans the human congestion and men touting tourists to pay for souvenirs or a well-taken photograph).

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Oh what a face only a célibataire on a bridge of love would make.

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Onwards to the legitimate lovelock bridge – the Pont des Arts overlooking Pont Neuf at the Louvre Museum! The sheer number of locks amazed me, it’s really no wonder parts of the bridge have collapsed from the weight. Each day hundreds of new locks are added to the walls along the bridge, and seldom have any been unlocked or removed until the recent collapse. Many locks date back to the ’90s! Lovelock bridges are always a sight to behold – the greater significance of the locks far outweighs its physical presence on the bridge. So much hope for the future goes into each, of which the keys are deliberately lost. There’s no question why Pont des Arts remains an important icon in the City of Love.

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xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[PARIS] oo1.KUSMI DETOX TEA

Whilst walking along Champs-Elysées my colleagues introduced me to Kusmi Tea, a brand of tea producing Russian-style teas and tea blends with headquarters in Paris. All of Kusmi’s merchandises and beverages are beautifully packaged in pretty tins and boxes perfect for gifts or simply displaying in homes. Couldn’t help grabbing a couple tins of loose tea-leaves and a pretty lime-green mug with an inbuilt infuser (because teabags may contain plastics which in the long run, isn’t good for you!) Look how pretty everything came in! IMG_3876.JPG The bright yellow tin contains BB Detox Tea, a blend of green tea, rooibos, dandelion and sweet fragrant grapefruit. It says on the inset pamphlet that it can be enjoyed iced or hot at any time of day, as the amount of caffeine is very light. I tried it early in the morning and am totally in love with the fragrance. As a detox tea, it smells and tastes too good to be true. I’ve tried Skinny Mint for a short while (that’s a another story), but this one tastes so much better and is cheaper too! Of course Skinny Mint effects are much stronger. The orange tin, aptly named EUPHORIA, contains roasted maté, chocolate and orange, and as the name suggests, is a total orgasmic tea experience. Now I know what to reach for when I’m craving a huge dose of chocolates…oh who am I kidding a double dose of Euphoria and chocolates is gonna be da bomb! IMG_3872.JPG IMG_3873.JPG IMG_3875.JPG IMG_3874.JPG The tea mug is kinda heavy with the infuser and all, but trust me, the fragrance is insanely good. I used to think Lipton White Tea and Lipton’s Strawberry Cupcake Green Tea were the greatest tea inventions of all until I met Kusmi. TWG Teas are literally not my cup of tea, and I especially hate their jasmine teas… it leaves that acidic aftertaste on my tongue! Wishing I’d gotten more of Kusmi’s teas. While referring to their web earlier, many other blends sound so equally orgasmic: St Petersburg – Blend of black teas, bergamot, red fruit and caramel Anastasia – Blend of black tea, bergamot and orange blossom Prince Vladimir – Black tea, citrus, vanilla and spices and so many more flavours! Tea lovers, give this a shot! xoxo, Viktoria Jean

Tous Les Jours | 뚜레쥬르

A shot of caramel macchiato before heading off to Yeouido Park for a long long afternoon! Tous Les Jours is this French-Asian bakery in South Korea that’s wildly popular as breakfast-to-go for the young adults. Coffee on the go!! ^^ 20140324-011559.jpg

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The cakes are so pretty, I had to sneak a few shots!

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The photos from my long walk with nature at Yeouido is hogging all my laptop space. I’ll need a few days to sort out the amount of pictures taken on this trip. Help me out here! >< give me some time and I’ll update as soon as possible. Till then!

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

London Lovin’: Ladurée

London Lovin’ – Parisian sweet treats in the heart of Britain!
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In 2011, The French patisserie’s first stand alone London tea salon opened at Covent Garden
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Where? The Market Covent Garden
London WC2E 8RA

Did you know…Ladurée was the first pâtisserie to color the macaroons, and sandwich them together with ganache or buttercream filling!!
How can anyone resist these pastel wheels of happiness?
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Beside macaroons, Ladurée’s extensive dessert menu offers a dizzying myriad of treats that will make you go wild.
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At Ladurée, Covent Garden, you get to bask in the sun and soak in some heat as the winter months gradual move in.
Can you believe it was 6 °C when we touched down in London yesterday morning?
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Embedded in the Covent Garden shopping district, surrounded by a tourists’ market, chain of food joints and restaurants as well as pubs and bars, it’s really convenient to pop by for a sugared quickie.

And a quick look at its interior:
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More cushy couches upstairs…
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This is why, Ladurée is the epitome of sweet treats to go with your afternoon tea.
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Book Review: I Heart London

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Published June 7th 2012 by Harper

Book Number 5 brings Angela back in full circle. She is summoned home for her mom’s 60th birthday party to a weed-rolling dad, and an ex-fiance who still wishes to stick his tongue down her throat. Plus her mom convinced the family and friends to hold the Angela-Alex wedding in 6 days’ time – right in her own London backyard!

Jenny, her best-friend-since-running-from-a-ruined-wedding-to-New-York, heads the wedding convention like a fashion tyrant, taking charge of decorations, makeup, stag/hen night, music, wedding vows…
but when New York clique meets London pals, things start falling apart.

Louisa, Angela’s best-friend-since-childhood, is now a mom and she definitely has different wedding plans for Angela. Adding to the mix is Angela’s brass-band-trumpet-playing dad who insists on trumpeting horny love songs alongside the wedding march and a cake-maker who bakes one giant car-sized cupcake instead of dozens of small bite-sized ones…

Is every consummation of love destined to be a disaster for Angela?

Alex as usual, is the perfect sweetheart in this one. Occasionally there are mentions of his slutbag days in Brooklyn, which adds to the wedding tension, but never once did he fail to make Angela the most blessed girl in London.

Aside from the big wedding, Angela, Jenny and Cici Spencer’s twin Delia are about to launch a transatlantic fashion magazine. Angela is scheduled to make a powerpoint presentation to the UK Management of Spencer Media while Delia does the French version in Paris.

With Cici Spencer back for revenge, this could possibly spell disaster!

I promise, no more spoilers. I really loved the ending, and like many readers I hope this is the end of it! It’s too perfect, a London wedding or not. I can’t imagine reading another Angela Clark in possibly a I Heart Singapore with her arms full of babies…
Although if there were any followups to the I Heart series…I know I would read it anyway.

If I HEART was ever to be made a movie, (as seen in I Heart New York)I would cast:
ANGELA CLARK: Alicia Silverstone
as

ALEX REID (the rockstar): Nicholas Hoult
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JENNY LOPEZ (the best friend!): Cheryl Cole
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GRAHAM (gay drummer of The Stills – Alex’s band): Dan Stevens
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Craig (bassist, ladies’ man, playboy): Chace Crawford
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JAMES JACOB: Cam Gigandet
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LOUISA: Diane Kruger
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SADIE: Shannan Click
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Because I loved the series too much…
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SYNOPSIS
Home is where the heart is. Right? Angela Clark has fallen in love with America — and it’s starting to love her back. Throw one expired visa into the mix, and things quickly take a turn for the worse. She might love her life as a Brit in New York, but now she has no choice but to return to London. Not only does she leave behind her gorgeous boyfriend Alex — she must also face unfinished business back on home turf. There’s the ex-boyfriend — who she moved to New York to get away from. Then there’s her best friend, with her perfect new baby. And there’s her mum. Now, there’s another wedding in the offing — and everyone remembers how well the last one went …

Book Review: I Heart Vegas

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Published by Harper, 2011

Unemployed: check.
Deportation notice: check.
Next stop: Las Vegas!

Best friend Jenny treats Angela to a weekend at Vegas with her new room-mate, supermodel Sadie. Concurrently, Jenny’s ex-boyfriend Jeff, currently engaged, takes his posse on a stag night slash strip-club weekend to Vegas. Something smells fishy…or does it?

The chapel of love, Vegas, is where you take the quick leap of marriage, with le super hot rockstar boyfriend, in a bid to keep your American Visa. He doesn’t even need to know you’re about to be deported. What your boyfriend doesn’t know can’t hurt him, right?

Enter James Jacobs of I Heart Hollywood, fresh from a breakup and ready to rock Vegas with Angela. With her devil-may-care attitude, her wild adventures in Vegas is as funny as it gets.

The Strip proves to be unable to handle Angela-Sadie-Jenny trio and superstar James. Where then, does Alex come in? Her relationship enters a rocky stage after an argument. It appears Alex does not want to marry Angela. The idea of having kids and starting a family invokes too much of his ex-fiancé. Or rather, both their exes.

Is Angela about to leave New York and her new life for good?

There’s trouble in paradise. Does it get resolved?

Since I’m already on I Heart London, all I can say is…Viva Las Vegas!

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Fancy kicking off your heels and sinking into a couch with a light, fun read? I Heart Vegas, as does the rest of I Heart series, keeps me giggling in my seat and takes the edge a rough day. I’m drawn into Angela’s world, and more than anything, I’m extremely sad over my impending completion of the series. More sequels, please!

If I HEART was ever to be made a movie, (as seen in I Heart New York)I would cast:
ANGELA CLARK: Alicia Silverstone
as

ALEX REID (the rockstar): Nicholas Hoult
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JENNY LOPEZ (the best friend!): Cheryl Cole
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GRAHAM (gay drummer of The Stills – Alex’s band): Dan Stevens
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Craig (bassist, ladies’ man, playboy): Chace Crawford
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JAMES JACOB: Cam Gigandet
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SADIE: Shannan Click
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SYNOPSIS:
Angela Clark loves her life in New York. She loves her job, her friends and her gorgeous musician boyfriend, Alex, who is finally ready to move in with her and start planning their future together. Everything is perfect.

But, after Angela loses her job, her world starts to crumble around her – her visa is revoked and she’s given the disastrous news that she must leave New York and her life behind and go back to London.

Confused, heartbroken and desperate to stay, the last thing Angela needs is a girls’ trip to Vegas just before Christmas – especially when Manhattan at Christmas is so perfect that she never wants to go home…

Book Review: Window (Michele Renae)

I received this book in exchange for a review, and here it is!cover37450-medium
Date Published: October 22, 2013
My Ratings: 7.5 / 10

“I loved that word: decadent. Unrestrained self-gratification. Indulgence.”

Set in modern day France, this contemporary piece is written in sensual prose that tells of a girl starting afresh by moving to Paris.

“I moved for adventure. I crossed the ocean for discovery. I moved for the pastries and baguettes. I arrived on foreign soil for the sexy Frenchmen and the Eiffel Tower.”

And sexy Frenchmen she did get. He moves into the building directly across from her. Thus begins their incredibly naughty mutual seduction, a flirtatious game played across neighboring windows.

“This slightly dangerous liaison was all about sight and imagination.”

Artful voyeurism at its best, the two volley between windows, each act bolder than the next. Readers are exposed to an incredibly honest insight into the inner workings of women. Told entirely from her point of view, the man and woman never actually exchanges any words at all. Imagination leads to intimacy, build upon mere acquaintanceship and zero expectation that they will ever end up as anything more.

At the end of the night, with a flick of the wrist, the curtains are drawn and so keeps the relationship at its best – at a distance.

First in a trilogy, Renae has me hooked already. Cliffhangers be damned, bring on the second book please!

If Window were made into a movie, I would love to have these people casted:

SHE: Erin Heatherton
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HE: Ian Somerhalder
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SYNOPSIS:
An erotic romance behind glass…

The first time she sees her new neighbor, his sexy smile arouses her curiosity—and her desires. His hard, chiseled muscles and playful invitations are irresistible.

Bared before their windows, framed and displayed above the streets of Paris, they embark upon a provocative affair. Their daring game of exhibitionism lures her back for more and more, and she quickly realizes he is the man she has dreamed about.
Yet she’s never heard his voice. Never felt his touch. Never thought she’d experience something this exquisite.

Or this bold…
WINDOW is the first book in the Paris Secrets trilogy

Book Review: I Heart Paris

12980295Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Date Published: January 1st 2010
My Ratings: 7 / 10

Yes I truly heart Paris!

With all due bias, this is my favorite in the series. Set in my dream city to live in someday, the third installation captures the mystery and allure of Paris.

The Alex/Angela relationship takes a nosedive into an all-time low as the duo make their way to the city of love. Here, not one but three jealous women attempt to backstab Angela via an array of unscrupulous means. With her blog and career in jeopardy, she’s got everything to lose, including her work visa at New York. Alex’s relationship commitment also apparently slackens as he comes face-to-face with his French ex, Solène.

Honestly I’m not entirely taken by Paris, because the Angela/Alex/Solène/Virginie/Cici drama took all the attention away. There were no loving afternoon coffees by the sidewalks whilst gazing lovingly into each other’s eyes. The people she thought she could trust (aka her lovely assistant Virginie) are not who they seem to be.

In terms of perusing Paris’s hot destinations, Angela was zipping through downtown hipster crowds where Alex’s band was doing gigs rather than big names like the Pont Neuf, taking away the allure of a textbook Parisian retreat.

Lindsey Kelk wrote as if she were a true Parisian, taking us on a tour of trendy local spots and chill-out spaces. I found myself enjoying the lesser-known parts of Paris which one would not be able to find out about from popular guidebooks. The spirit and joie de vivre of Paris comes alive in bits and pieces gleamed from Angela’s (mis)adventures.

Eventually Angela straightens things out with her backstabbers. Her evil boss Mary seems to soften a whole lot more and claims she doesn’t want to lose a ‘good writer’ – a huge compliment in The Look’s history of employee flattery. Taking the leap, Angela moves in with Alex in the New York apartment. That said, I’m already moving on to I Heart Vegas, next in the series of Angela’s quests and explorations.

If I HEART was ever to be made a movie, (as seen in I Heart New York)I would cast:
ANGELA CLARK: Alicia Silverstone
as

ALEX REID (the rockstar): Nicholas Hoult
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JENNY LOPEZ (the best friend!): Cheryl Cole
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GRAHAM (gay bassist of The Stills – Alex’s band): Dan Stevens
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Craig (drummer, ladies’ man, playboy): Chace Crawford
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SYNOPSIS:
Angela is in the city of love — but romance is taking a nose-dive! When Angela Clark’s boyfriend Alex suggests a trip to Paris at the same time as hip fashion mag Belle asks her to write a piece, she jumps at the chance. But even as she’s falling for the joie de vivre of Paris, someone’s conspiring to sabotage her big break. And when she spots Alex having a tete-a-tete with his ex in a local bar, Angela’s dreams of Parisian passion all start crashing down around her. With London and her old life only a train journey away, Angela can’t decide if should stay and face the music or run away home!

One more for the road 🙂 (taken in Dubai’s Movenpick Hotel Deira)
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