Showing posts with label Beach Books. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Beach 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!

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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.


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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. . .)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

A Beach + A Book = Hawaiian Paradise

My new shoes are off - it's time to kick-back
j. smith photo (c) 2011
It's a kick-back Hawaiian Saturday . . .the kind where you do what you have to do early and then head to the beach with a book.

We try to read novels set in the locales we are visiting while on the road and we've been reading some great ones these last few weeks.  If you need a good beach book, try one of these:

Moloka'i by Alan Brennert (he also wrote Honolulu) who takes the reader back a century or so to experience a little known time and place, the Leper Colony on Moloka'i.  As the author's afterward indicates the research materials are vast and he's created characters based on historical accounts.  It's been a long time since a book has moved me to tears but the story he created of  Rachel Kalama was so beautifully told that I did cry at the ending.

Best South Sea Stories, edited by two University of Hawaii professors, was calling out from a shelf at Border's in downtown Waikiki.  The collection of short stories put together by  A. Grove Day and Carl Stroven are whisking me to South Sea islands aboard sailing vessels of all shapes and sizes in tales written by the likes of James A. Michener, W. Somerset Maugham, Herman Melville and Jack London, just to name a few.

And of course, a trip to Hawaii isn't complete without reading of the adventures of the rotund Chinese police detective, Charlie Chan.  This trip we've followed his work on a case in the last book of the series written by Earl Derr Biggers' Keeper of the Keys.

We found Love Finds You in Lahaina, Hawaii at our nearby Costco.  The title would have normally turned me off, had it not been written by Bodie Thoene of the husband and wife writing, research team Bodie and Brock Thoene (pronounced Tay-nee), I am eager to start it before we leave.  The duo introduced me to Prague and Vienna in another series of historical novels they wrote.  They have spent each spring for most of their adult lives writing and teaching in Hawaii.


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