BlogAwards 2017 #UKBA17


This has been one of the most amazing things to happen since the BookTrail Literary Travel Agency opened its doors. I started the blog way back and now it looks how I always imagined and hoped that it would. It’s been nominated in the UK Blog Awards under two categories – Travel and Arts/Culture.




If you would spend just one second of your time and head over to the UK BLOG page here then to say we would be eternally grateful is an understatement.

It’s voted under Travel/Culture combined, Travel and Culture separately.

Please vote for the combined option. All votes count!


And a HUGE thank you in advance for getting TheBooktrail this far….and for one more vote to take it a step further   xxx Susan and Clare


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




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

Book Oscars 2016

We’ve an Oscars special over on the new site – Book Oscars and there’s awards for best female in a novel, best male, best original soundtrack featured in a novel, best picture (on the cover) and best foreign fiction

So put your glad rags on and join us on the red carpet! Oh there’s an interview with the man who’s just won an Outstanding Achievement Award!


Friday reads to travel with this weekend..

There are some cracking books out now and next week. Oh yes, get very excited as it’s going to be a busy time for fiction fans.

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Setting: The Silk industry and a war zone

Location: Vietnam

The Silk Merchant’s Daughter. Your literary guide – Dinah Jefferies

A story about a country divided in two – French Indochina – and a girl with both Vietnamese and French parents stuck between two worlds and the fear that she may fit into neither.

Stunning scenes of The heat and humidity of Hanoi, the art of the silk market and the cold, brutal onset of war, violence and a devastating family secret. This played out like a film in my mind. It was visually stunning and so poignant and sad. I felt so bad for Nicole and devastated at what she is faced with. How could she cope in such a situation? I was riveted to find out more about French Indochina and the historical setting but it was the plight of the characters, what it myst have felt like at the time that really got me going

Where to read- with a cup of chai tea, a silk ribbon as a bookmark and somewhere very comfortable you’ll want to read it all.

Coming soon on

Setting: A siege situation

Location: London

The Hollow Men. Your literary guide – Rob McCarthy

Dr Harry Kent is a doctor called out to dangerous situations and as a former army medic, he has seen some sights. But the siege in a chicken take away turns into something he’s never faced before and it’s a dangerous setup in more ways than one. With a mix of medical drama and a hectic pace that never lets up, this is a new, sharp and thrilling new angle to crime fiction.

Where to read – on a bed or near a doctor as you’ll be needing medical attention for a rapid heartbeat after this one!

Setting: a Scottish music club

Destination: Kilmarnock and other Scottish cities

Rise and Fall of the Miraculous Vespas. Your literary guide – David F Ross

Think Train Spotting set in a musical world. Think humour and Scottish banter, the trials and tribulations of making it, busking around the Scottish music scene and trying to make big.  Think life.

Following on from The Last Days of Disco,  with a theme tune to take you back into the eighties, with your permed hair and neon socks or maybe with a kilt you’ve fashioned from a tartan blanket and a belt…this is the decade that style may have forgot but praise the Scottish maestro who has brought the best side of it back and brought back the music too.

Where to read – preferably in a club with a beer in one hand and music banging away n the background -wearing a kilt whilst in Scotland of course.

Coming soon on

Vera goes interactive

Fancy a jaunt down to Harbour Street? 

Vera as your guide?

Screen shot 2016-02-07 at 15.20.43

Already a successful post on the blog, we’ve updated it and mapped out all the locations in the book – some film locations and where a place is fictional, we show you the best places to go to evoke the setting Vera sees.

On the new site you can click and visit these places for real. Use the little yellow man to step into the book yourself!

Tonight’s fairground based story was filmed on the Town Moor in Newcastle where each year a huge fun fair visits the North East and stays a short time during the summer months. Well I say summer, it normally rains but it never dampens the fun! Seeing Vera film in a makeshift fun fair was a lot of fun and will be brilliant to see it on screen for real!

Visit Harbour Street before you go


Vera Day on ITV


Come and see where Ann’s books are set and filmed 

I am so excited Vera is back on the television.  After having loved and read all of Ann’s books and watched all of Vera’s  episodes, never has the North East looked so mesmerizing and creepy at the same time. Brenda Blethyn was on the Jonathan Ross show last night talking about how she came into acting rather late  and when she got the part of Vera, this middle aged dumpy and bedraggled woman,  and worried about why they had cast her. She plays the part so well and I see her every time I pick up a vera novel now (and I don’t just mean on the cover)

Brenda Blethyn on the Jonathan Ross Show Jan2016

It was a real honour to film a piece for local television (ITV Tyne Tees)  this week in order to launch the new booktrail site and to talk more about the locations featured in Ann Cleeves novels. Ooh how I wished we’d had time to go to Tyne Valley, Amble and all the rest – but even just on the Quayside, around the corner from the Church where Harbour Street opens and the Lit and Phil  where Vera praises as a haven for every booklover (true) On tonight’s episode, we see Vera and Joe talk to a waiter/manager on an open balcony overlooking the Tyne (Brave). In the winds the North East has had recently, nearly everyone is wearing Vera style macs ( or they should be)

  Brenda Blethyn in her role as Vera on ITV

Vera pet you bring so much enjoyment to  the television screens and having bumped into you in various places in and around Newcastle (there was a pop up Fairground on the Town Moor where Vera films a few scenes and Brenda spoke last night on Jonathan Ross’s show about how they’d filmed the entire sequence only for a woman to come out of the nearby toilets, spot her and shout ‘ Vera!!’

Now if I hadn’t been with my mother that day, this is just the kind of thing she would have done. Everyone loves Vera.

So – ITV tonight 8pm. Vera Day is announced. Enjoy!

See the book The Moth Catcher come to life here 

Ann Cleeves and Vera

Ann Cleeves literary guides: Northumberland – ANN CLEEVES,

Vera, Joe and Jimmy Perez talk crime on the new booktrail website

To help launch the new travel feel to the whole event – we met up with the lovely Ann Cleeves of Vera and Shetland fame. Now this is an author who lives and breathes the North East, and those far and distant Shetland Islands. Both are beautifully evoked and become major characters in her crime fiction. This lady knows about cracking crime locations, evoking a sense of culture and community.. and for bringing that unlikely crime fighter with the green mac..

It’s a nice place we’ve come to chat – a quiet cafe in Vera country no less – and full of literary characters. Jimmy Perez has popped down from Shetland and is sitting opposite us in this Drift cafe near Cresswell where we are supping tea and eating cake  – giving us that steely glare that only he can. He wants us to talk about him first apparently. Vera is outside talking animatedly to Joe Ashworth . She’ll be along in a minute… )

Photo: © Ph Matsas / Opale

Your love of Shetland is well known and now you’ve produced a photographic homage to the islands. Why was this project important to you?

The Shetland book celebrates my 40 years of visiting the islands – I first went there in 1975 to work as a cook in the bird observatory in Fair Isle, the UK’s most remote inhabited island. It was a way to capture some of my favourite places and to share my love of the islands with other people. I hope it’ll persuade more people to visit. A lot of the pictures were taken by a local photographer.

Location is important in both your Vera and Shetland novels What does Shetland offer in particular?

The bare and open landscape provides a wonderful contrast to secrets hidden. Shetland is an interesting and vibrant community, which believes in the old traditions but looks forward too. Now the oil industry’s contracting it’ll be fascinating to see how the islands change.

For the rest of the chat – please pop over for a cuppa and a cake on the new booktrail site

We’re dying to welcome you there, we’ve had a spruce up especially!



New booktrail site

Hello everyone!

Thought I would write a little post to share with you the new literary booktrail travel agency. It’s only been up two weeks and already is getting really popular! I’m so humbled by the response and wish to thank you all so so much for your support. Crossing from one blog to a site is never easy but you have all made it so  – thank you very much indeed!

This is an invite to send your books into the site and tell us where they are set and get your name on the site as a booktrailer!

What’s your favourite book or a book you’ve recently read set in a particular location? Show your love and support to the author as many of the new interactive maps we have are being featured in the press and we’d love you to share this!

Please go to and let’s get travelling!Screen shot 2016-02-02 at 16.11.23

Living the life of an adventurer – Robert Nelson

This can now be found on our new site

so we hope you join us there!. But for now:

Ever fancied moving abroad? What is involved and what do a lot of people say they’d wished they’d known before going? Now I’ve been sent this rather interesting account of one man’s experience in finding out these questions for himself. You might think you know what to expect from this book but like the expat experience itself,  it’s a unexpected mix of surprises, shocks and of course laughs. As well as some very useful tips for you if you’re thinking of taking the plunge yourself.


Having lived abroad myself for a while, I was interested to read about other people’s experiences of this. Like sitting in a cafe and talking about why people move to another country in the first place.

This book by Robert Nelson looks at several American expats and why they wanted to move in the first place then follows them during the ups and downs. Now this reads like chatting to people in the coffee shop or bar as they chat and tell you what happened to them, making you think what you would have done or would do differently.

It was interesting to read of so many motivations and reasons for why  people move but what I found interesting is how they integrated into their new life. Brought back memories of the ways you find out how to live a new life whilst not forgetting your old one and getting a whole new viewpoint on your home country.

Moving abroad isn’t as easy as it might sound  – and the people in this book show you it’s the little things such as the cultural nuances, the different ways food is prepared, the way you get so used to something that you question if something simple like buying a bus ticket has to be so different.

This book would be a good way to test things out and think if you’ve considered what you need to to move away – and the story of the American woman living in Marseilles was particularly interesting.

Robert NelsonIf you’re nosy like me, then its great to meet up with these people and hear the funny and the sad stories. For everyone has a story to tell, and the expat ones are some of the funniest.

It was interesting to see how the author Robert Nelson himself had come to write the book and to what his own experiences had been. Mexico was his country of choice and despite moving back to San Francisco was more and more interested in the other people who had moved or those who were thinking of moving.

If you’re one of them then this collection of things to do and things to avoid would be a good way of trying it all out before you take the plunge. And you do get to meet some interesting people in the process!

Clare Booktrailer

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