Showing posts with label Amazon books. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Amazon books. Show all posts

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!

VegasHawaii2012 101
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.


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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.


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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,

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.

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. . .)

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Monday Meanderings: Daydreams,Details, Discoveries

“You love travel don’t you?!” a friend observed over coffee last week. 

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Normally, that’s a pretty good observation, but on this particular day my life was segmented into “Must Do”, “Must Finish”, “Must not forget. . .”  and I wouldn't say I felt real smitten with travel.

Travelers know it well.  It’s that time prior to a trip when the mental list whirls around in your head and seems to grow longer, rather than shorter when put to paper.  It is the Details phase of travel. Not our favorite part.


We have spent a leisurely summer at home, devoting hours to planning and pondering, researching and reading about possible fall destinations.  This early phase is one we consider nearly as good as the trip itself: daydreaming about the next potential discoveries.

007We let our imaginations soar as we pondered the possibilities on our tiny “Mediterranean” upstairs deck (pictured above). If we can't live in the Mediterranean, we've surrounded ourselves with living reminders of travels in that area: my fledgling  fig tree (Spain), olive tree and geraniums (Greece) and basil (Italy). . . the lavender plants (France) are in our garden. It was difficult back in August when Lake Washington shimmered in the afternoon sun to imagine how quickly we’d be putting autumn details to those summer daydreams. 

With our fall compass pointing finally toward Italy, our reading – both fact and fiction – became focused.   We found some great reads, by the way, and you can see them on the Amazon Carousel on the right hand side of our home page.

washington wednesdays 005 As summer has turned to fall, our daydreams have given way to  details, like: 1. Do we have confirmations from every place we are heading? 2. Maps – the paper kind -  gathered?   3. Clothes  (do we still fit our travel clothes?) 4. Are house-sitters and security confirmed? 5.Prescriptions refilled? 6. Have we put on the list everything we need to do to prepare for the trip?

My friend knows me well. We do love travel.  As we move from the daydream to details to discovery phase – we often observe that travel is a stimulant that makes us feel more alive.

I suspect if you are reading this blog, you also love travel. Are you in the dreaming, detail or discovery phase of a trip right now? 

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Book It: A Holiday at Home!

When we aren’t living out of a suitcase we are armchair travelers. It’s the easiest of getaways requiring no more preparation and planning than opening a book’s cover (or flipping a switch and downloading, for those techie’s out there).

We’ve often found that our favorite books are not those we we’ve selected, but those that have been recommended to us by friends.  So I’ve asked a few blogosphere friends to make some recommendations. . .novels, guidebooks, essays, poetry. . .whatever they think would  make for an armchair getaway in 2012. Here’s what they suggest:

Outdoor Adventure Travel

TITLE: DSCF0066“Lost Angel Walkabout: One Traveler’s Tales” (CreateSpace, 2010)

AUTHOR: Linda Ballou

Recommended by: Dick Jordan, San Anselmo, California.

About this collection of travel narratives, Dick wrote,  “Linda’s travels have taken her on a wide path across much of the globe.  One of the reasons I enjoyed her book so much is that I have actually ventured – albeit as a less adventurous traveler – to several of the places she writes about in Alaska, Arizona, the British Virgin Islands, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Montana and Wyoming.”

Freelance travel writer Dick Jordan, when not on the road, makes his home in Northern California. He writes one of our favorite travel blogs, Tales Told From the Road.

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TITLE: “The Lost Explorer: Finding Mallory on Mount Everest,” (Simon and Schuster, 2001)

AUTHORS: Conrad Anker and David Roberts

Recommended by:  Niki Sepsas, Birmingham, Alabama and the High Seas

George Leigh Mallory was last seen alive on Mt. Everest in June, 1924.  In 1999 professional mountaineer and co-author Anker discovered Mallory’s  mummified remains.  “Interesting read on Mallory, his adventures, and his death on Everest. Authors are still trying to determine if he actually reached the summit. Lots of vivid descriptions, theories on his death, etc.” Niki said.

Birmingham, Alabama is home to freelance writer, travel guide and cruise ship speaker Niki Sepsas, who has among his writing credits, a novel,“Song of the Gypsy.”

The Greek Connection

0006100-R1-005-1TITLE: "Greece on My Wheels” (Summersdale Publishers, Ltd., 2003)

AUTHOR: Edward Enfield

Recommended by:  Bill Kitson, North Yorkshire, England 
Enfield, in this lighthearted and entertaining book, tells of his adventures biking through the Peloponnese in the footsteps of romantic poet Lord Byron.

“This book could only have been written by an Englishman. . .for two reasons,” Bill wrote, “One that the humour is archetypal English and two, I doubt whether any other nationality but the English would be daft enough to have undertaken this adventure.”

North Yorkshire, England is home-base for Bill Kitson who has brought detective Mike Nash to life in a series of nail-biter crime novels; but he and his wife/editor, Val, hold Loutro, Crete close to their hearts as well.

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By coincidence, another blogosphere friend, Jeffrey Siger, shares the Kitson’s love of Greece and by further coincidence, writes about murder as well.   He shares a blog with seven other mystery writers around the world so he was unable to suggest only one book - he says head around the world with the books of those with whom he shares the blog, Murder is Everywhere:

“If you are interested in a trip to Thailand, read Tim Hallinan; France, Cara Black; Brazil, Leighton Gage; Iceland, Yrsa Sigurdardottir; England, Dan Waddell; or South Africa, Michael Stanley,” he recommends. And if you are interested in Greece. . .

 Jeffrey Siger gave up a New York law practice to move to the island of Mykonos, Greece where he has given life to Inspector Andreas Kaldis in a series of murder mysteries set in Greece.

Afghanistan from the Armchair

TITLE: Born Under A Million Shadows (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2010)

AUTHOR: Andrea Busfield

RECOMMENDED BY: Suzi Butcher, London

Suzi said, “Sometimes books take us to places we are unlikely to be able to travel to ourselves - like Afghanistan! I especially like this novel as it is filled with gentle humour, despite the obvious tragedy of the current situation. It is the story of an Afghan boy whose mother works for three Westerners, and his perception of what they get up to is often hilarious as well as extremely moving.”

Suzi Butcher is the editor of Packabook Travel Novels a great website to both browse and buy books and a related blog that showcases novels and novel destinations. She also has a fabulous on-line book club that you can join for free!

And Just One More. . .

By now your armchair suitcase should be full, but if not, let us add a final recommendation:

0911800-R1-007-2TITLE:  Book Lust To Go Recommended Reading for Travelers, Vagabonds and Dreamers. (Sasquatch Books, 2010)

AUTHOR: Nancy Pearl

Nancy Pearl was the librarian at Seattle’s Public Library; famous for her love of books and reading. She gave rise to the program, “If All Seattle Read the Same Book” which caught on in cities throughout the United States.

Since her retirement from that post, she continues to do what she did best as a librarian – find great reads and  recommend them. She has three “Book Lust” titles to her credit, but this one is perfect for armchair travelers.  And don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a list of books, it is a book about books from A – Z; beginning with A is for Adventure and ending with Zipping through Zimbabwe – a great read on its own.

Note:  I’ve added links on the titles which will take you to Amazon for each of the books recommended. There you'll find more description and reviews. If you purchase from one of these links we make a few cents, but that isn't our intent.  This post is meant to provide new armchair itineraries. Thanks to those who contributed suggestions - may you all have safe and satisfying journeys in 2012.

YOUR TURN! What armchair itinerary do you want to add to this list?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Early Spring Armchair Travel

The only thing better than lazing away afternoons with a good book is being on a trip and lazing away afternoons with a good book. Our internal GPS systems always take us to the local bookstore or book section of a local gift shop. When we leave home there's always enough room in the bag to tuck in one or two new books. While in Santa Barbara I visited both Barnes & Noble and Borders - even though we have both stores near our home. They each had great local book sections.

[Yes, we know Kindle would simplify the packing and the selection, but it would seriously hamper our ability to browse local stores and we are old fashioned: we love books printed on paper.]

Even when we are home, our books take us on trips to new and old-favorite destinations. We've been updating a list of our 'armchair travel favorites' in the right-hand column. And we recently added a carousel book display because it shows the covers of 10 of our current recommendations. By simply clicking on the book, you will go to the Amazon web site where you can flip through the book, read a few pages, and read reviews of zillions of others, not just us.

[Disclaimer: if you purchased a book using this link, we earn about 40-cents, so it isn't a money-making venture. We just liked the ability to show the book and make looking at it a simple one-click process. We hate finding a title, writing it down and then losing it before getting to the right web site or forgetting to bring the note when we get to a bookstore.]

We've had several books recommended recently by readers of our blog and we will be reading them soon. We also plan -- when we aren't on the road -- to change the books on the carousel every couple of weeks. If you've got a recommendation for armchair travel we encourage you to write a comment about it so other readers can see your recommendations as well.


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