Book Advent – day 23 – Booktrail top ten


This year we have read some fantastic books and been to some fantastic places so here is our top ten in no particular order to inspire you to travel – via your armchair this Christmas season –

Bamburgh, Northumberland
Bamburgh, Northumberland
A journey through Cuba
A train journey through Cuba
Paris, France
The mysterious backstreets of Paris, France


To the dark streets of Edinburgh, Scotland
To the dark streets of Edinburgh, Scotland
The Garden of Evening Mists
The Garden of Evening Mists in Malaysia


experience the personal story of a small girl in Africa
experience the personal story of a small girl in Africa
Experience the cemetery of forgotten books in Barcelona
Step inside the cemetery of forgotten books in Barcelona –  in Shadow of the Wind
Explore the mystery of Keswick and it surroundings in Island of Bones
Explore the mystery of Keswick and its surroundings in Island of Bones


The amusing goings on in a small village in India
The amusing goings on in a small village in Pakistan. Get a cultural insight and make great friends


Protect yourself from the Canadian chill in Ottawa with a cracking crime thriller
Protect yourself from the Canadian chill in Ottawa with a cracking crime thriller

So, there you have it, our top ten books this year. We’d love to hear yours and we do actually have loads more except we couldnt fit them all in. How do you pick only ten? Well based on location and atmosphere, these ten really did pack some punch. And well because I had to include this one –

Cry yourself to sleep on an island beside a lighthouse in Australia with A light Between Oceans...
Cry yourself to sleep on an island beside a lighthouse in Australia with A light Between Oceans…

Well, I guess that makes it 11 – well we best stop there otherwise we’d be here all night adding all our favs. Tomorrow we chose one that has both surprised and amazed us in equal measure. An imaginary location but one which we would love to go back to very very soon…….




Book Advent – day 19 – A snow quiz

Today it felt time to have a snow quiz looking at the best snow scenes in literature, stories set in snowy places and books which snow was almost as big a character as the human characters themselves  – so just for fun here are 6 questions with the answers appearing tomorrow. Well I can have to create a little bit of suspense now don’t I?



1. In which classic book is it winter all the time but never Christmas?

2. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, where are Harry and Hermione on a snowy Christmas Eve?


3. Where is the Snow Child set and what is her name?



4. In Snow White Must Die, what is the name of the village where the book is set?


5. Which book features this snowy scene?


It was nice, though, when we got out of the dining room. There were about three inches of snow on the ground, and it was still coming down like a madman. It looked pretty as hell, and we all started throwing snowballs and horsing around all over the place. It was very childish, but everybody was really enjoying themselves.

Have fun in the snow and see you tomorrow!

Mini romantic book cruise – Book Advent day 17

Today’s Advent entry is a mini tour of 3 books set in various locations but with one theme in common – romance

Perfect for this xmas season –


Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë – set in Haworth, Yorkshire

“Every atom of your flesh is as dear to me as my own: in pain and sickness it would still be dear.”


The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton set in 1870s New York

“Each time you happen to me all over again.”


Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx set in the American Midwest

“I wish I knew how to quit you.”

And as I couldn’t resist – well it might be soppy but it is Christmas after all –


Winnie the pooh

by A.A. Milne

If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day, so I never have to live without you for one single day “

Book Advent – day 12



Today’s visit takes me to a place that both captivates me and horrifies me in equal measure. A world that is so far repmoved from mine that I sometimes think that I will never fully understand it, but this novel took me right to the heart of it and I felt as if I had caught a glimpse of what it would feel like from a young girl’s point of view.


Set in Kyoto in the 1920s


Memoirs of a Geisha paints a picture of a secret, beautiful world. But scratch off the paintwork and the world within is one of pain and suffering.

Geishas are beautiful ladies who seem to live a life of luxury, but appearances are very deceptive.

They cannot think for themselves – they are owned by the men they entertain.

Their freedoms are controlled and contained by the women who own the geisha homes

Based in the 1920’s in Kyoto, Japan, a young girl named Chiyo lives with her sister Satsu, in a poor town called Yoriodo along with her elderly parents. She is sold to a man who takes her to be an apprentice geisha in the city. The head geisha is jealous of her good looks and soon starts to make Chiyo’s life painful. All a geisha has to do now is to serve her master and to find a man who will not necessarily love her but to keep her and control her. But Chiyo falls in love…


Memoirs is a window into a different world  – a world which you may not wish to enter and certainly not want to be part of, yet it is worth a visit for the fascinating fate of one geisha who is herself representative of many others.

There are evocative descriptions about places, ceremonies, kimonos and feelings which paint a picture however horrifying at times, you simply cannot take your eyes off. But that’s a good thing as to do so would be missing an amazing tour of the streets and atmosphere of Kyoto.

Book Advent – Day 3


This is day three of the Book Advent and phew this is some journey! Three continents and I have travelled some distance but that is the beauty of armchair travel since you can be as quick or take your time with your journey and never leave your seat. Aaah bliss

Well today we are off to another continent and we could not be further away from our last setting of Paris if we tried.



I admit to not having read  a lot of literature set in Australia but my love of ML Stedman’s book  –  The Light between Oceans has made me change my mind.

This is a fictional account of a fascinating and brutal period of Australian history


Story in a nutshell – 


Will is a young man  in London who is condemned to death for stealing and he is sent to New South Wales, the penal colony that England founded on the Australian continent.

With the first part of the book set in and around the Thames, we see how life is tough for Will and his family and begin to see how and why such a man should be sent over to a penal colony.

It is when the action moves to Australia that I am most fascinated by this book and the story contained within. Life gets better for will at this point as he starts making money and it seems to be a journey and at sometimes an unpleasant one as it draws us into the story of the settling of Australia and the problems that derive from taking land that has been occupied by natives-in this case the Aborigines.


This is the disturbing part of both the story and the book but it is worth reading as Grenville writes well and creates characters that you really see come off the page and stand up for themselves. She does not shirk from the realities of history and doesn’t let her characters either how ever much i wanted will and Sal to do things differently.

The family are set to inhibit and to try and conquer a new world, with a harsh hot climate and struggles with those who lived there before them.

New South Wales is a fascinating backdrop and although I have never been nor would I want to travel to it in this time period, it would be fascinating to learn more of its history by going to the places in the book and appreciating the story of its peoples.

It is the story of early Australia and is a fascinating journey

Book Advent – Day 2


Day 2 of Book Advent  –

Adam Gopnik used to be a writer for the New Yorker and this book is a collection of essays about the time he spent in a certain French city with his family.  A period of five years in which he got to navigate the city and French lifestyle both physically and metaphorically

We are off to PARIS!


Interestingly this male perspective of moving from The US to Paris is not one that I have read much about -and his innocence evident at the start to the reality he faces and understands better at the end.

He will only stay in Paris for 5 years and then must return to New York but not before he has experienced everything that Paris has to offer –

Back Camera

He talks of the food, the cobbled streets, the crowds by the Seine – you can picture it all. There are many comparisons of course to New York and one of them which I found hard to identify with having lived in both cities myself was this –

“We go to cities to be invisible, or to be invisible and visible by turns, and it is hard to be invisible in Paris.”

I think Paris like any city has a danger of swallowing you up whole and although I have never found Parisians to be rude, I am surprised that the author didn’t see the risk of becoming invisible amidst the twinkly bright lights of the Eiffel tower – lost amongst the shadows of the lonely cobbled backstreets and the tourists.

There are a lot of references to characters in books and TV is this book – Gatsby for example which adds a literary thrill to both the author’s and readers experiences of his trip around the city.

Back Camera

If you want to visit the Posh Parisian department stores, go on the rides at the Luxembourg Gardens and pop into the Ritz, then this book will certainly take you there.

As the book was written before the Euro came into being, there is also the feeling of stepping back in time. France pre Euro and post Euro changed dramatically and there are things here that I had forgotten and so it was nice to revisit

I recommend that anyone who loves France should do the same.