Saturday, February 1, 2014

Bookin’ it to the Beach: Novel Destinations

Winter – whether you spend it basking on a beach or snuggled up in an easy chair by a fireplace – is one of the best times of year to escape to a ‘novel’ destination. I wrote this post while still back in the Pacific Northwest and used a photo taken last year in Hawaii at its start. Good thing I did as we've had very little beach time in Hawaii this year - wet and wild weather, the norm the last couple of weeks, as I told you in the previous post - has kept us inside for much of the time.  All the more reason to have stuffed the suitcases with some good books!

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Beach at the Outrigger Canoe Club - Honolulu, Hawaii
Some of our favorite destinations are reached by simply turning a page. So, let me tell you about some of the 'novel' places we’ve been in recent months:

New Zealand:


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Bay of Islands - New Zealand

We traveled to New Zealand aboard the Celebrity Solstice last fall and then I returned via “The Bone People” by Keri Hulme, a Maori who grew up in Christchurch and Moeraki.

This Booker Prize-winning novel was published in 1983 and I first read it more than a dozen years ago and will likely read it again and again.  Part mystery, part love story, this contemporary novel highlights the relationship of three central characters as well as the Maori and European cultures in New Zealand.

Italy


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Tuscany, Italy
Product DetailsBeautiful Ruins,” was written over a 15-year period according to its Spokane, Washington author, Jess Walter.  And the work he put into it is evident as you travel between places and times, fiction and reality.

This is, flat-out, a love story with unexpected twists and turns some of which take readers from mid-century Italy’s Cinque Terre to modern-day California, Northern Idaho and back to Italy.  Walter moves the reader forward and backward in time, his smooth transitions between times and places made this one of those books you didn’t want to put down.

Seattle, Washington


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Panama Hotel lobby - Seattle, Washington
51tXTlzZcNL._SL160_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-dp,TopRight,12,-18_SH30_OU01_AA160_[1]Jamie Ford’s “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet,” was my favorite read of the summer.  Another love story; this one set in the heart of Seattle’s Japanese/Chinatown – The Panama Hotel --during World War II.

Regulars to TravelnWrite will recall I wrote about the hotel following my first visit there. Click here for that post.  I’ve since been back to the TeaRoom/CoffeeShop and recommend it as a 'must visit' if your travels take you to Seattle and reading this book is a definite must whether you ever visit or not.

Greece


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View overlooking The Mani - Peloponnese, Greece
 TravelnWrite regulars also know of our love of Greece, so anything written about that country, is a popular read at our house. 

This book, written by British journalist Marjory McGinn, with a groaner of a title, “Things Can Only Get Feta”, is non-fiction, but an easy and entertaining read about her first-hand experiences living in Greece as an ex-pat. She and her partner and dog had a three year adventure living in the southern Peloponnese . . .one of our favorite places.

For you blog readers and writers out there, she also writes a blog, www.bigfatgreekodyssey.com

And some of our 'novel' destination travels we are taking while in Hawaii this month include:

Cutting for Stone, by Abraham Verghese, a professor at Stanford University’s School of Medicine, opens in mid-century Ethiopia and follows the story of two brothers coming of age as the country hovers on the brink of revolution.

This book came recommended by many who told me it was the best book they had read – I had a hard time getting into it (too much medical detail for my taste) but once I got past the medical jargon, it really was hard to put down.

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The Scout has been reading “Lost Luggage”, by Jordi Punti, the story of four brothers living throughout Europe who share the same father and don’t know that until  . . .

(You’ve got to read the book to find out, just as we will). This is the first novel by Punti and it has already been translated into 15 languages and is the winner of the Spanish National Critics Prize and the Catalan Booksellers Prize. I will be heading to it next!

41RvqgXzOTL._AA160_[1]And who can go to Hawaii and not read a Charlie Chan Mystery? I am currently re-reading “The House Without a Key” by Earl Derr Biggers because it is set in Honolulu and features our favorite detective, Charlie Chan. I am loving it as much as the first time I read it when it was republished in 2008.

“The Potato Factory” by Bryce Courtenay, is set in the 1800’s with the first half of the novel in London and the second half in Australia – following the lives of characters who arrived at ‘the fatal shore”.

And this is the one that got away; well, it didn't arrive before we left. The books by this author get rave reviews -- this one was recommended by an acquaintance from Sydney -- but the only negative seems to be how difficult it is to get them in the United States. This one shipped in early January but had a delivery date range of three weeks! It didn't make it before we left.  This book is the first of a three-book trilogy, . . .they need to get some copies here!!


So what reading recommendations do you have for us?  Leave a comment below if you are reading the blog or send us an email if you receive the posts in your inbox. . .we’d love to hear where you’ve been traveling via the written word!

And note:  I am putting all of these on the Amazon wheel found on the lower right corner of our home page.  Click here for the link. The FCC* requires that I tell you if you click on it and purchase a book, we get a few pennies from the sale.  (In full disclosure: I must tell you that I've had books on that wheel for nearly three years and I have yet to receive the minimum check of $10 . . .so much for salesmanship!! Winking smile (*yes, bloggers are regulated by the FCC. . .)

25 comments:

  1. All of your reads sound great, Jackie! I don't have any suggestions as I'm very book challenged. Meaning not enough time to read as I would like. One that did catch my eye in particular reading your post was “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet". Seattle and WWII. Sounds right up my alley! Good post, our friend :)

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  2. Thanks much, Mike! I understand completely as there just aren't enough hours in a day to read and write and complete life's many 'other duties as described' on the job description. You would love that book!

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  3. The magic of books (and blogging) is that they can transport us anywhere in the world we might like to go.
    How about Australia?
    Happy travels, happy reads, and thank you for stopping by my blog today. I am glad you liked the tummy summer treats I served up.

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    1. I will get to Australia 'again' as soon as Amazon gets that book delivered! ;-)

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  4. I just finished Beautiful Ruins and was mesmerized by it. The most interesting novel I've read in a while. :-) Your other options look fascinating too! :-)

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    1. I agree totally - it was a great read! (Even Joel liked it and that surprised me given the romance nature of it)!

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  5. Loved Cutting for Stone and Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. It seems we're on the same wavelength.
    I recently read The Paris Wife by Paula McLain - a fictionalized account about Hemingway's first wife. It was an outstanding read.

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    1. Leigh, I did read that book and failed to list it here. I also thought it was great!

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  6. Excellent books, I've just started Beautiful Ruins, can't wait to read about Cinque Terre!

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    1. Oh I think you'll get caught up in the magic of Italy, Noel!

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  7. Hi Jackie, I downloaded “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet" as soon as I read about it in your older post. Thanks for giving me more reading idea. I love books that transport me to places. They all sound interesting. I haven't read much about Ethopia so I think I'll start with "Cutting for Stone."

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    1. Oops, I ended up writing this as a comment and not a response, but I too had read little about Ethopia and it certainly taught me a lot about it's history - and it was a great storyline as well.

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  8. Looks like some great reading suggestions for my next trip!

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    1. Armchair, beach or on a plane - I recommend them all! Thanks for stopping by today Irene!

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  10. Hello Jackie
    A wonderful list of books and how fitting that you tied them with countries and places you have been. I am slow reading, as our art show is coming up. I did read "A story lately told" a biography by Angelica Huston which is very interesting. She is going to write another which will cover her more recent years. Helenxx

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    1. Oh, now that is one to put on my future reading list. Thanks for sharing it, Helen!

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  11. What a fabulous list of books ... a little off the beaten track, but all so interesting. I'm going to pop over and seek out the ex-pat blog about Greece too. I have Bryce Courtney's "Potato Factory" sitting on my bedside table ;)

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    1. Hopefully it will be waiting for me when I get home and then it can be on my bedside table as well! (Love the ex-pat blog about Greece).

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  12. Thanks for sharing your recommendations. I've been a non-fiction kind of reader for most of my life. Maybe it's time for me to wade into the fiction end of the pool more often. We just finished a 13 day cruise during which I read 3 books. Actually, 2 were mysteries---

    A Voyage Long and Hard, by Tony Horwitz, 2008 This author also wrote Blue Latitudes about Captain Cook's Pacific journeys. This one is about the various groups, explorers and conquistadors who came to the US after Columbus---up through the Pilgrims. Mildly interesting. Really bloody, violent history.

    U is for Undertow, Sue Grafton 2009 A somewhat satisfying Kinsey Millone, private investigator mystery in her alphabet series---"A is for Alibi" etc.

    Plum Spooky, by Janet Evanovitch ---- my first Janet Evanovich mystery even though friends have been recommending her for years. I found the characters a little hard to follow sometimes(?), but the repartee was amusing and kept it light. Perfect cruise reading.

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    1. I was so busy on our 19 day cruise that I never got around to reading Blue Latitudes, so it is here with me in Hawaii. Love Sue Grafton and Janet Evanovitch books - just bought a J.A. Jance which falls in that same type of genre book to finish while I am here as well!

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  13. Oooh, I have heard awesome things about the first two books and frankly, I could use something fluffy right now, so I just might order "Beautiful Ruins". Alas, it will have to be on French Amazon, so it looks like you are still a few pennies short of that $10 check! ;)

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    1. Beautiful Ruins will transport you to Italy in the most amazing love story. Thanks for visiting today, Heather! I am not counting on seeing that check in this lifetime! ;-)

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  14. What a great list of books, Jackie. My reading list has just gotten longer, again. I wish I could figure out how to do all the reading and blogging that I want to do. I need a clone of myself!

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    1. Oh I so agree, Nancie. Not enough hours in a day! What I've found amazing from the comments so far is how many of us are reading or have read the same books.

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So happy to see you took the time to comment. We read them all - and each is much appreciated. We hope you will be a regular here and comment often!

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