Destination Thailand competition!

 

For those of you who might be missing out on the new booktrail website –

On the new site as we have an interview with Katy Collins of Destination Thailand fame 

A booktrail  http://www.thebooktrail.com/book-trails/destination-thailand-lonely-hearts-club-1/

AND

Thailand

 

A competition so you can read the book and imagine you’re in Thailand. Just follow this link to your new adventure….

http://www.thebooktrail.com/destination-thailand-holiday-package-to-be-won/

The Merit Birds – Vientiane, Laos – Kelley Powell

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Why a booktrail?

A journey into a new culture and a new awareness as one boy moves with his family from Ottawa to Laos..

Story

Eighteen-year-old Cam Scott has a lot to deal with at the moment. His dad is not around and his mum has just accepted a job posting in Vientiane, Laos which means a move halfway across the world.  What about his dreams of playing basketball for Ottawa not to mention the strange new culture and life he’s about to have forced on him.

His new life however has some strange effects on him as he begins to make friends and even finds love. There’s a way of building good faith here – you buy a caged bird –  a ‘merit bird’ and that gives you good karma. But when tragedy strikes, Cam finds himself needing a lot of good faith from a culture and people he realises he knows little about.

Place and setting

Laos - Vientiane - Talat Sao morning market Talat Sao is a morning market in Vientiane, Laos. Located at the eastern corner of Lan Xang Rd. and Khu Vieng Rd. in the heart of Vientiane, the morning market is open daily from 07:00 until around 16:00 Mekong River Seng must travel across here and hope that Mother Water saves him. It separates Thailand and Laos Laos - Vang Viend Where Cam says he was on the night of the party Laos - Vientiane  - Patuxai Traffic circle Where the merit birds are captured in cages. Patuxai is a war monument dedicated to those who fought in the struggle for independence from France. Khang Kok Prison ( fictional)  One character ends up  in here - only foreigners go here. Apparently the prisons for Lao people are worse
Laos – Vientiane – Talat Sao morning market
Talat Sao is a morning market in Vientiane, Laos. Located at the eastern corner of Lan Xang Rd. and Khu Vieng Rd. in the heart of Vientiane, the morning market is open daily from 07:00 until around 16:00
Mekong River
Seng must travel across here and hope that Mother Water saves him. It separates Thailand and Laos
Laos – Vang Viend
Where Cam says he was on the night of the party
Laos – Vientiane – Patuxai Traffic circle
Where the merit birds are captured in cages. Patuxai is a war monument dedicated to those who fought in the struggle for independence from France.
Khang Kok Prison ( fictional)
One character ends up in here – only foreigners go here. Apparently the prisons for Lao people are worse

The journey to Laos was ‘first happy Millennium, then welcome to the dark ages’. Everything seems in slow motion, everyone is sleepy or relaxed and from the moment they get into a tuk tuk, Cam’s impression is clear

During the drive, I saw that Vientiane wasn’t even a city. It was just a bunch of grubby villages that grew into one another”

The Laos culture, seen through Cam’s eyes is a brutally honest, yet still colourful snapshot of life here. This is no paradise, the palm trees are skinny and the ponds stagnant. A  young woman kills a chicken at the side of the road – the palette of beauty and death mixing in to a glorious ruby red on the street.

From first impressions to some that linger 

They lived by the saying ‘boh penyang’ – ‘no worries.’ They saved their energy for telling jokes and helping out friends or family. It seemed kind of simple, yet profound at the same time. Weird how a poor country like Laos can be so rich.”

The Merit Birds are a way to build up merit and karma in one’s life and so when Cam is sent to Laos prison, the messages of Karma. Buddhist faith, the cultural differences in the country are all explored. How free was he really in Canada? How trapped is he now in Laos? As free as a bird?

Then I came to the last trembling bird. “Go!” I urged him. “Get out of here”. But the bird stayed – so used to the cage and so fearful of the unknown.

The sights, sounds, smells, faces and everywhere from the market stalls to the flashy clubs to the brown paddy fields and of course the inside of a Laos prison all stunningly evoked so the reader gets to experience it as Cam does. In vivid coulour. And those merit birds continue to flap their wings in your mind.

Bookish musings

Not having read much YA before – I know shame on me! I wanted to read this as it sounded very impressive from the outset. The locations were a particular attraction but as soon as I started to read, it was clear how this was going to be a mix of stories -an angry young teenager taken out of his comfort zone, a cultural shock to contend with and one heck of a misadventure. There’s a romance and  a search for the truth and that combination made for some interesting reading.

I felt completely transported to Vientiane and through Cam’s eyes, I felt a confused teenager in a new land with every noise, smell, sight –  even the weather was so very different to those in Canada.

It’s a coming of age story and there were times I could have slapped some sense in to Cam to be honest, but then that’s just me. The whole story is more important than any quibbles I had about him. Might be different if I were a teenager.

A really good blend of cultures, landscapes, teenage emotions and life lessons to be learned. Oh and the idea of Merit Birds was a particular highlight for me. What they are and what they stand for  – something to take away from this book no matter where in the world you’re from.

The Day of the Wave – Thailand – Becky Wicks

TheDayOfTheWave_LARGE

Why a booktrail?

A fictional tale of two sixteen year olds who were caught up in the Tsunami of 2004

Story in a nutshell 

Isla and Ben were just sixteen when the Boxing Day tsunami tore through their beach resort in Thailand. They had formed a life changing bond only a few days earlier and were missing presumed dead for a time.

Ten years later and both Isla and Ben, saved yet haunted by that one day of disaster and everything which followed. What would they say to each other if they found each other and again and what would happen to bring both of their lives at a crossroads once more?

Place and setting

Thailand - Bangkok - Khao San Road where the tourist stands are and where Ben and Sonthi see someone from their past Thailand - Khao Lak Where Ben sees translucent tourists every day and where the disaster struck them. Thailand - Khao Lak  - BAng Niang Ben and Sonthi work here at Dream Dive on the beach Thailand  - Phuket They both return here after meeting after so long Thailand  - Phi Phi One of the badly affected areas described in the story
Thailand – Bangkok – Khao San Road
where the tourist stands are and where Ben and Sonthi see someone from their past
Thailand – Khao Lak
Where Ben sees translucent tourists every day and where the disaster struck them.
Thailand – Khao Lak – BAng Niang
Ben and Sonthi work here at Dream Dive on the beach
Thailand – Phuket
They both return here after meeting after so long
Thailand – Phi Phi
One of the badly affected areas described in the story

The setting of the Boxing Day Tsunami must be one of the most vivid yet heartbreaking scenes that is still so firmly etched on everyone’s minds . The magnitude of the earthquake which triggered the tsunami measured some 9.2 on the Richter scale and hit off the western coast of Northern Sumatra. The author mentions that around 14 countries and 5 million people were affected in some way.

Building up a fictional story from such shocking real life events is to bring that event back to life and some scenes are upsetting yet told though the eyes of two sixteen year olds, this is one first and foremost of adventure and first love. But this adventure has soured quickly and bad memories linger. For Isla –

My friends can sympathise and I love them for it, but their idea of Thailand in general is different to mine. they can’t ever imagine the smell of rotting corpses in 35 degree heat….bodies piled upon bodies, the mangled concrete, the twisted tuk tuks.

How do you get over something like that? Do you ever and what happens when you meet the one person who brings all of those memories back and more?

Each one of them has moved on after the tsunami but the effects of that time are both heartbreaking and hopeful –  how its shaped them and how it shaped their young lives in to the people they are today.  Thinking of the water, he remembers. He has built this life back up for himself, this life of diving and sea and sand. But he remembers

She doesn’t know the details, of course: what happened once we were out there

Their stories merge and slowly they learn what the tsunami really destroyed that day.

Bookish musings

This is a poignant story of two young people and how they deal with such a huge tragedy. I remember seeing this on the news and wondering how people coped afterwards and this book really made me think. How one day, can change your life beyond belief and how you cope with it afterwards.How one tiny detail can make you have flashbacks..

This story really hits a nerve as it could be true – people who lost each other that day and years later find each other again – a remarkable story and the way Becky tells it through the eyes of two young people makes it all the more poignant. This is a journey of pain and suffering but also of healing and living life when you have a second chance.

Travel the world with the Atlas of Us – Tracy Buchanan

Screen shot 2014-08-26 at 12.29.35
From San Francisco, via Exmoor, Venice, Serbia, Finland to Thailand. and Australia..

Travel the world with the ATLAS OF US

atlast

This is a booktrail which takes you far and wide – to the stunning locations such as that as evoked on the cover to England, Australia, Dubai, San Francisco and even Serbia  – an usual location for a novel maybe and certainly an eclectic mix, but one which is used to dramatic and stunning effect. Finland, as the author’s personal favourite location is also evoked beautifully on the page.

 

 

Louise Fenton decides that she has to travel halfway across the world to the site of the 2004 Tsunami  in order to find her mother Nora who was there when the disaster struck. She meets up with Jay a journalist who is looking for Claire, a friend who seems to be connected with Nora in some way. Louise is curious and wants to know more. What she discovers is far beyond whatever she can imagine.

What a journey in both the emotional and physical  sense of the world. There is the heartbreak of seeing the destruction of the Tsunami at first hand, the war torn parts of Serbia and the desolate and rather chilling backdrop of Exmoor.

But walking off the map is at the heart of this book – exploring, letting yourself go and discover things, opening up your mind and daring to dream and hope.

Let’s Walk off the map –

The-atlas-of-us-pb-font-675x1024

Krabi Thailand

The opening scenes of setting where the Tsunami happened are heartbreaking as louise goes in search of answers –

When I close my eyes, the water comes: the violent thud of waves, the tar smell of salty dampness  seeping through the cracks of my dreams. But when I look out of the bus window, it’s nothing but mangled cars again; boats that have somehow found their way onto the roofs of two -storey buildings; suitcases flung open, their innards spilling out on to the dusty pavements below

It is  perhaps the most naturally stunning of al the locations in the book but one stepped in sadness and human disaster – being recent in our memories makes it all the more distressing as we can only wonder what it would feel like to be searching for a loved one – whilst thanking our stars or a god that we ‘re not really there ourselves.

Screen shot 2014-08-26 at 12.05.00

Exmoor, UK

We are introduced to Exmoor by a drawing tucked inside the Atlas of Us –

The water colour of grey pooling around the edges of moss green valleys, ready to plummet  downwards and destroy everything below

This is the setting for the main part of Claire’s story and we attend a wedding there on the rocky, windy british valley, the slopes of the cliffs into the sea, the sheer drops and the blustering wind – Claire takes her dog Archie for a walk. Th opening line to this chapter and locations sets the scene in more ways than one –

In Exmoor, there a feeling that, at any moment , something might suddenly plummet.

Such evocative writing is not just evocative of location but of emotion too and that makes for some powerful travelling experience. This is the setting for a wedding, a farmer with a secret past and a woman who gets drawn into the evocative and secret past of a family and their rustic home. There are many issues evoked alongside this setting with Claire and her growing relationship with a man called Milo – a strange and secret man indeed. His rugged demeanour and mysterious ways was as wild and mind-blowing as the Exmoor setting….

The ragged outline of the Exmoor cliffs - Wikipedia
The ragged outline of the Exmoor cliffs – Wikipedia

 

Snapshots – 

ITALY

Claire takes a trip to Italy – no spoilers here and evokes the location here via just a few words

Venice reeks of secrets. Its air is heavy with them: its narrow alley ways and shadowed canals  tailored for them

 

SAN FRANCISCO

Based in San Francisco before her travels, we get s glimpse of her home and early life –

Claire hesitated for a moment peering out of the vast windows that overlooked the Golden Gate bridge. It shone bright red against the stark black sky….

She’d even rented a room in one of San Francisco’s painted ladies, the multicoloured Edwardian houses that lined the city’s Haight-Asbury district

But the scent and air of Thailand never goes away and away from the destruction of the tsunami we see the beauty of the country – this is the scene I imagine describing the cover –

The-atlas-of-us-pb-font-675x1024

Ko Phi Phi Don, Thailand

The rickety old boat bobs up and down on the turquoise seas  and I press my hair against my flyaway hair, trying not to get sick. The girl shad been so excited when I told them I was going to Ko P{hi Phi Don by boat, especially when they heard the boat’;s name meant ‘ Sea monkey’ in thai

In another location, we see and experience the war torn country of Serbia for the first time – 

A Belgrade and B Fruska Gora
A Belgrade and B Fruska Gora

Fruška Gora – Serbia

Claire tried to conceal her  shock as she took in her first views of belgrade. the buildings outside her taxi window were  scorched and windowless, like charred paper decorations hanging from the sky, ready to  crumble at one puff of breath

What the author describes as her favourite location in the interview at the back of the book, there are stunning descriptions of this beloved place –

Inari and Iso
A Inari where Filipe’s family have land and B Iso – Syote, Finland

IsoSyöte, Finland

Claire looked out at the  white landscape spread out before her – skies as pink as a child’s blush…

…like a scene from a Christmas card…

Finland was ideal; she‘d never been before so there were new vistas t explore, new foods to taste, new scents to smell, and something to get her writing teeth into: the land disputes between the indigenous Sami people and the Finnish government were ideal material for her.

 

Australia

Ayers Rock or Uluru is at the heart of Australia's red centre
Ayers Rock or Uluru is at the heart of Australia’s red centre (Wikipedia)

The Red Centre of Australia is a land on fire,burned up with fever, hot and agitated

 

And a quote that sums up both the essence of what we love at The Booktrail and what we believe reading and travelling means –

Photo courtesy of Tracy Buchanan
Photo courtesy of Tracy Buchanan

They’d been there for her when she was a kid craving consistency too, curling out in a little nook somewhere, the characters she’d read about becoming her friends when she only had her family for company as they travelled from one place to the next.

The Atlas of Us – and the world of books – seen through the eyes of the author – meet Tracy on twitter – @TracyBuchanan and http://tracybuchanan.co.uk/site/index.php/