Booktrail “Most inventive” booksawards 2015

2015-awardsBooktrail Awards for 2015 

This was hard to decide on as there are many novels that deserve an award to be honest. We’ve read and enjoyed so much this year and there are so many more Booktrail statues we could have awarded but I narrowed it down to these little beauties…


Most tears shed over a novel

the-nightingale-978144728307201The Nightingale

Kristin Hannah

Set in Carriveau France

We can’t recommend this novel enough. It’s sad, utterly heartbreaking but so so good and evocative of what women went through during the war. The challenges and choices of two sisters keep us reading through the night and we shed more than a tear at what they went through. Carriveau seems so real we had to check it wasn’t a real place. It’s so evocative and the story of rural France during war time is just brilliantly written and we are giving this as a present to many people this year.

Best North v South banter

edinbThe Strings of Murder

Oscar de Muriel

Set in Edinburgh

Oscar de Muriel is one funny man. Not only does he get Scottish banter spot on, but he weaves so much Scottish culture and supernatural intrigue into his plot that this is a real treat to read. We know and love Edinburgh well and this was so much fun! Creepy too but the humour and banter between the two main characters had us in stitches. And the memory of the policeman from London trying haggis for the first time will never leave us hehe

Best dual culture crime

death in rainyDeath in the Rainy Season

Anna Jaquiery

Set in Cambodia

There’s something very intriguing and special about a French detective investigating in Cambodia. France meets Cambodia was a very new crime backdrop and revealed an evocative setting for murder, politics and a great Cambodian sidekick called Sarit. Morel is a great character – one of the best in a crime novel we’ve read in a long while. The entire plot was just so immersive and so different to anything we’d read before and the way Anna Jaquiery weaved so many strands together in a complex yet smooth and poetic plot – hats off to you.

Best Dubious drama group


Ragnar Jonasson

Set in Siglufjörður

If you’re ever tempted to join a drama group, don’t join the one in  Siglufjörður will you? That’s if you ever get through that small snow tunnel that links or cuts off the town from the rest of the world. The goings on in this very small place with the writing as crisp and chilling as the dubious dealings are quite ingenious. The entire Siglufjörður setting and the silence which is broken, the screams, the 24 hour darkness….blimey this is one killer of a novel

Best use of a boat

sea maidSong of the Sea Maid

Rebecca Mascull

Set in Portugal

Now if we had a boat we would want to sail and have our own adventure.

Kudos then to Dawnay Price who is something of an anomaly. She was a woman who lived in the 18th century and is based on a real person. She defied men and others who said she couldn’t explore. A gutsy herione who fuels her passion and goes off on an adventure is the story we loved to read. With such evocative writing, we were right there with her and we felt as if we learned so much about the Berlengas Islands and history but never did it read like a history lesson. Rather like a song as in the title…

Most inventive use of an elephant

elepahantThe Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra

Vaseem Khan

Set in India

Ah this has to be a favourite. An elephant as sidekick, a most beautiful colourful cover, a funny and witty author interview. Ah this is a labour of love and was so funny as well as being a gritty crime novel too. The setting and nature of the crimes were unique and the culture seeped into each and everyone. As soon as we put this novel down, we wanted to read the second.

What are your special reads and why? It’s fun to look back at your literary year!

Alaskan Delights – Stan Jones

We’ve just had the great fortune of getting mail all the way from Alaska saying how the booktrail has reached the farthest point of the earth! Well we were shocked  – very pleasantly I might add, and there may have been a happy dance or two around the room. That’s how we heard about Alaskan author Stan Jones who we just had to meet!

TUNDRAAnd so we did, and his books. And today, we’ve tempted him out of the cold to speak to us.

We warm him up with some hot chocolate and a little bit of flaming Christmas pudding and then we chat like crazy!….

Hi Stan!. What a pleasure to meet you and read your Alaskan set stories!

Can you tell us more about StanJones (1)and why he is your lead character?

 Almost from the moment I arrived in Kotzebue, I knew I wanted to write about that lovely part of the world and the fascinating people who live there. Crime novels seemed as good a way as any, because that form offers the author latitude to explore any aspect of culture, society, history, or circumstance that strikes his fancy.

The question was, who should be the cop in crime stories about the Arctic? It needed to be someone with ties to the place and people, but at the same time someone who was conflicted (the first law of fiction being, torment your characters!).

Thus did Nathan Active spring into being: An Inupiaq born in Chukchi, but to an unwed teenage mother who knew she was unfit to raise him. So she adopted him out to white schoolteachers, who soon moved to Anchorage and raised him there. 

Nathan resented his birth mother for giving him away, and grew up trying to pretend she and his birth place didn’t exist. He considered himself an Anchorage boy and set out on a law enforcement career by joining the Alaska State Troopers.

Luckily for fans of the series, life got complicated the moment Nathan completed training. The Troopers, with the customary blind perversity of every bureaucracy since the beginning of time, posted him to Chukchi for his first assignment and he’s been there ever since.

At first, he angled for a transfer back to Anchorage at every opportunity. But, over time, he has reconciled with his birth mother, and has come to appreciate Chukchi for the fascinating place it is. Now he’s there to stay, and has moved on from the Troopers to head the public safety department of the Chukchi Regional Borough. He’s The Law north of the Yukon River and south of the Brooks Range, as he puts it.

Despite all the change, Chukchi is still as unique as ever. As a character put it in the very first Nathan book-White Sky, Black Ice–“It makes sense if you don’t think about it.”

You are a native of Alaska. What is particularly special and dear to you about Chukchi where Nathan Active  is  born?

Caribou hunter's cabin
A Caribou hunter’s cabin (c) Stan Jones

Chukchi is fictional, but is modeled pretty closely on a real village named Kotzebue. My family has lived there at various times and one of my children was born there.

Chukchi (Kotzebue) is about 35 miles north of the Arctic Circle on the Chukchi   Sea. Because it is above the Arctic Circle, that means there are a few days in summer when the sun doesn’t set and few in winter when it doesn’t rise–talk about the edge of the world!

One of the side-effects of this phenomenon is what they call Village Time, meaning that people don’t pay a lot of attention to the clock. Since it’s either light all the time or dark all the time for much of the year, one time’s as good as another!

Chukchi/Kotzebue is home to about 3,000 people, around 80 percent of whom are all or partly Inupiaq Eskimo.

Kotzebue bluff (c) Stan Jones


The first time I landed there was a clear October day. When I stepped off the Boeing 737 jet, it was about five degrees above zero (Fahrenheit) with the wind rolling in off the sea ice at 15 or 20 mph. It was beautiful and, strange as it may seem to denizens of milder climes, it just felt right to me.

Since that day, the place has never been out of my heart or head. I haven’t lived there in a while, but my wife and I still go back to visit whenever we can.

The last such occasion was September of 2015, when President Obama paid a visit–POTUS on the Permafrost, as the occasion came to be known. While I was there, I managed to give one of his Secret Service agents a signed copy of one of the Nathan Active books, Village of the Ghost Bears. I signed it for the president, and expressed the hope that, having seen the real Kotzebue, he might enjoy reading about the fictional version. Wouldn’t it be cool if he read it and posted a review on Amazon!?

And with that thought (Stan we think he should for sure!) we leave Stan warming his hands by the fire and filling his flask full of hot chocolate ready for the ride home.

You can get the book here: Tundra-Kill

And meet Stan here:

#booktrailadvent Melissa Hill brings the sparkle!

Melissa Hill celebrates Christmas on the booktrail!


Melissa Hill, author extraordinaire has returned to the booktrail to talk about the magic of Christmas and the sparkle that this season can bring.

And I’ve just read her latest book which celebrates everything to recreate the perfect snowy magical atmosphere at Christmas – a nice wedding in Central Park in Snowy New York with the twinkly lights, the promise of true love and a sparkling Tiffany diamond to light up the magic factor.

So I wanted to ask her more about what Christmas means to her and why this time of year is so special…

Apart from a diamond, what else do you think is a girl’s best friend?

This book is dedicated to the memory of my beloved pet dog Homer, who died while I was writing it. He was fifteen years old and was with me throughout so many highs and lows. As I mentioned in the dedication he was my best friend, better than any diamond, and I still miss him desperately.


Two stories – those of Rachel and Gary and then Ethan and Terri intertwine with unexpected results. Two very different stories. Which was the most fun to write?

Garys and Rachels – purely because Gary is such a love/hate character! Like many Irish men, he puts up this macho front which is why hes so difficult for Rachel to read, and he finds it difficult to express his feelings, but is ultimately a softie inside.


Where is your special place at Christmas and why?

Somewhat untraditional really, but my family and I have spent our last three Christmases at a beach house on the Gulf Coast in Florida and its incredibly beautiful and relaxing there.

Stunning Christmas Eve sunsets, followed by celebratory drinks by the pool, then walks on the powder-white sandy beach on Christmas morning alongside the local dolphin family, followed by Christmas dinner on the terrace beneath blue skies and palm trees. Again, quite untraditional but very definitely jolly!


Life should be fun of sparkle you say on the cover. Which sparkling restaurant or unusual place in New York would you recommend readers visit to capture the spirit of your book?

I adore the Central Park Boathouse, where Gary and Rachels wedding takes place in the book. It sits right in the heart of that gloriously green space with Manhattans breath-taking skyline all around. In summer the front of the restaurant opens up to a wonderfully romantic view right across the water and people (usually couples) rowing boats on the lake. Its the perfect location to celebrate a special occasion and to my mind, theres really nowhere better to capture the true magic of the city.

With many thanks to Melissa for a perusal and use of her lovely photo album of happy and poignant memories. And the cake with diamond frosting we enjoyed was a lovely touch!

Send some sparkle to Melissa via :

Twitter: @melissahillbks

Facebook: /melissahillbooks


#Booktrailadvent day 2- Liz Fenwick warms us up in Cornwall


It’s the first of December and a cold morning as I sit in my kitchen in Cornwall and look out at the soft orange-pink sky.

The leaves have gone from the trees after the gales that have been blowing, but the silhouetted branches of the pear tree are not bare – they are covered in lichen, soft green grey. The landscape at the start of winter is quieter in one sense and wilder in another. It’s prepared for the coming gales that will blow through with astounding regularity. But Cornwall in winter is the best. The bare bones of the landscape are on display. The bent and twisted shapes of the trees formed by the prevailing wind are like skeletons sticking out of the ground. The fields are visible over the hedges so you can see the shape of the land and the sea – well, that is fierce and wild one day and bluer than you believe possible the next.

Screen shot 2015-12-02 at 10.30.32


Cornwall feels empty but not desolate. It’s during this quiet time of the year when I have the lanes to myself and I can peer into windows in the early evening before curtains are drawn that I feed the well of creativity in me as writer. No other place but Cornwall makes me sees stories around every blind corner.

The view from the Ferryboat Inn (c) Liz Fenwick

At this time of the year the walking is brilliant. You see more and the landscape is more vivid. The land is raw and the history is visible. Plus at the end of the walk the pubs are so welcoming. Pubs have featured in all my books. You can’t beat the Shipwrights Arms in Helford for the view and great food. Those who have read A Cornish Stranger will remember this one in particular for the music – a regular feature all year round.  This pub also features in A Cornish Affair too.


The New Inn Manaccan is now owned by a consortium in the village and visitors are sure of a warm welcome and guaranteed to meet locals. This is where Maddie first saw Gunnar in The Cornish House.

The Ferry Boat Inn (c) Liz Fenwick

Across the river on the north side in Under A Cornish Sky you have Demi, Sam, Victoria and Sebastian going to the wonderful Trengilly Wartha, which at this time of year features delicious warming food.

The Ferry Boat Inn (c) Liz Fenwick

The Ferryboat Inn mentioned in Under A Cornish Sky takes on a bigger role in my next book The Returning Tide. It sits just above the beach in Helford Passage. The food is great and if you are an oyster fan the landlords own the local oyster beds. Can’t get much fresher or shorter food footprint.


In the pubs do try the local cyders…and if you’ve read Under A Cornish Sky you’ll know why. The varieties of local cyders are growing, which has the wonderful knock on effect of reviving orchards long neglected. This brings me back to the view from my kitchen. Our garden was once part of an orchard. Our pear tree is massive and very old. We have three apple trees…I wonder how many were here during the house’s first hundred years…I think I feel another story coming on…


– A book set in Cornwall in the summer time would do wonders to warm you at this time of year…..mulled wine…ginger biscuits, a roaring fire and a visit to Cornwall courtesy of Liz Fenwick. –


Merry Christmas and happy reading!

Revisiting literary friends……Agatha Christie


Books often take you places you never would have gone before. Agatha Christie for me is one such author who has taken me to places I really wish did exist – St Mary Mead for example -although the murder rate is quite high there so maybe not sure about that one.

Still, the places such as Gossington Hall, the inside of the Orient Express,  Betrams hotel are memories which will stay with me for ever. They’ve lasted like faded photographs in  my mind ever since I read them and now with the TV adaptation of her Tommy and Tuppence novels, I thought it was nice to reread them.

Oh and it was like visiting an old friend, seeing the places again that I knew as a child, the very first day an English teacher handed me my first Agatha Christie – A Murder Is Announced – and said “I think you’ll like this”

How do you feel when you wander back into a book you’ve known and loved for years? It felt like wandering back into a house I used to visit frequently, friends I used to know, wondering what has changed and what has stayed the same. Of course it was me who now was older and arguably wiser, now having read many crime and mystery books based on forensics and more brutal cases would my visit to the past be a good one?

Well yes it was and more. For it was like opening up an old treasure trove and marvelling at a time when there was no technology that we rely on today, that clever old Miss Marple who would sit and knit and observe……the head bobbing over the hedge as she listened to some secret chatter, the excitement of wandering into Gossington Hall when it was still owned by the colonel and then when it is taken over by an American actress…

Aah Agatha, your crime stories have stood the test of time for me – they are classics, photos in my memory box, recollections in my mind.


As for Tommy and Tuppence, I had met these two in the story N or M and now they are being republished with the TV images of David Walliams and Jessica Raine as the crime busting couple. A new chance to reconnect with two old friends!

Now then, I think a cup of tea is in order, a comfy rug and a good Christie in preparation for tonight’s visit with Tommy and Tuppence on BBC.

How did you feel reconnecting with characters from your past? Is it good to meet old literary friends?

A Literary Feast – Jennifer Barclay

Books and Food – what else can we say? What else is there to say quite frankly?


Here at the booktrail, we eat books. Devour them. Even love to sniff them from time to time such is the obsession with the paged beauties. Books are almost edible, the stories in them good enough to eat!

So what about the meals that actually feature in the stories? Ah from the very moment that Oliver Twist asks for more ( and we learned what gruel was) there are so many dishes of delectable literary snacks, meals and desserts.

So imagine our joy when we discovered this tasty gem of a book – literally eating your way through books …. Jennifer Barclay has now served up snippets of literary delectability, with the fragrances and emotions that all food can bring. In  the words of Virginia Woolf –

One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.’

Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

Some books make us hungry – Edmund’s Turkish delight in the Narnia stories, the sumptuous feasts of Alice in Wonderland, the chocolat of Joanne Harris and the Canadian delights of Anne of Green Gables (although go easy on the raspberry cordial) you remember what happened to Diana…..

With recipes for many meals, snacks, deserts and starters, the book would be a very handy companion to helping you out when you’re reading a novel and get hungry.

It did get us thinking however of which books we’re read recently that we would literally love to eat however…..

*The taste of olives and olive oil as ‘tasted’ in Jo Thomas’s book – Olive Branch

*A Saffron recipe as found in Rosanna Ley’s The Saffron Trail

*Anything made with the honey in Laline Paull’s ‘The Bees’

Jennifer Barclay has written a book for all tastes!

Writers’ Houses – Where Great Books Began – Nick Channer

Today is #Bookshopcrawl day and we’re very excited. Going around a bookshop or a few bookshops for the greater good and having a day to celebrate it? well our arms do not need any twisting at all. We think everyone should go and buy a book today from an indie bookshop.You might want to buy a novel, or you might want something a little bit different…

Are you naturally curious? Nosy even?

Do you love to see what other people have in their homes?

Want to see how the other half live?

This is a lovely book about where you can see some of the homes of the great writers from  days gone by. The homes and landscapes which inspired some of the most iconic novels of all time?


Agatha Christie – Devon

Address:Greenway Road, Galmpton, near Brixham, Devon, TQ5 0ES

Telephone: 01803 842382

The books to take –

Evil Under the Sun – Murder comes to a secluded Devon hotel just as Poirot is trying to enjoy a bit of peace and quiet

Dad Man’s Folly – Poirot gets on the case after a murder mystery evening suddenly turns deadly for real. This was modeled on the holiday retreat at Greenway where Christie used to go.

Ordeal by Innocence A family murder takes places at a Devon country house inspired by Greenway…


Sherlock Holmes himself – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Groombridge Place Estates Ltd.

Groombridge Place, Groombridge Hill, Groombridge, Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN3 9QG

Telephone: 01892 861444 Email:

The book to take –

The Valley of Fear

The setting of the novel is hugely inspired by Groombridge place and the garden where  Dr Watson overhears an important conversation is a great place to read the novel today and wonder what ‘Birlstone Manor’ would have been like in his day…


James Herriot – Yorkshire

23 Kirkgate, Thirsk, North Yorkshire YO7 1PL

Telephone: 01845 524234


We loved reading about this writer as not only has he written some very funny books about Yorkshire life, he is a true Northerner – born in Sunderland, raised in Glasgow, he moved to Thirsk after the outbreak of the Second World War.

Oh the fun we’ve had trailing the hills and dales of Yorkshire thanks to you Mr James. Or should that be Alf Wight, his real name before he saw a certain Jim Herriot  play football one day…

Books to read –

All Creatures Great and Small


Where have you been to on a pilgrimage of a literary kind? Go pick up a book today and see where the book can take you or where the writer took their inspiration from and who knows what you will discover

Books really do take you places!

Writers Houses  – Where Great Books Began is written by Nick Channer with a foreword from no other than Julian Fellowes of Downton Abbey fame. Now these are two men who know something of old majestic houses and settings!

Published by @RobertHaleBooks and reviewed in @DevonLife with a great piece about Agatha Christie’s Devon

Happy World Book Day

Happy World Book Day!!!!


Today is World Book Day and we’re celebrating by…hugging every one of our books in turn…and then reading. Even though it’s really the children’s version of World Book Night on April 23rd, we like celebrating books every single day and want to play our part in World Book Day.

We love one idea of theirs in particular for encouraging children to read –

Discover a place through a book

Well, now,this is right up our street as it’s what we love to do all the time. Here  you have it official though from the WBD team –

  1. Read a book or part of a book that is set in another location.
  2. Listen out for words and phrases that the author uses to describe the setting; can you picture what it is like to be there?
  3. Use art materials to represent different settings that you visualised as the text was read.
  4. You could work in 2D or 3D to create a story scene.
  5. Looking at your artwork, can you think of any other language that describes this place?
  6. If you want to work more in depth; you could produce a visitor’s guide or brochure for the location. ie BOOKTRAIL

And just as they say on a popular children’s tv show – Here’s one we made earlier –

The booktrail map for Alexander McCall Smith’s book 44 Scotland Street –

Scotland Street - where it all happens Drummond Place Bertie and his mum are spotted walking along here Dundas Street The home of the Art gallery and Big Lou's Morningside Road - where they go in the search of the Peploe painting only to discover that a certain Ian Rankin has bought it!
Scotland Street – where it all happens
Drummond Place
Bertie and his mum are spotted walking along here
Dundas Street
The home of the Art gallery and Big Lou’s
Morningside Road – where they go in the search of the Peploe painting only to discover that a certain Ian Rankin has bought it!

A few photos from the gallery –

The corner of Scotland Street - 44 would be where the trees are.
The corner of Scotland Street – 44 would be where the trees are.
"Big Lou's" cafe as in the novel
“Big Lou’s” cafe as in the novel

If you have a booktrail you’d like to feature then send it in and we’ll post it here! We would love to see your photos, places within a book and artwork. There may well be a prize or two..  

Get reading and get booktrailing!

World Book Day we love you x

Visit the World Book Day website for tons more ideas and information –

Best Booktrailing Book Covers of 2014


There have been some stunning and very artistic book covers this year and we’ve picked our four favourites to show what we love about these books – one for every season…

Ghostwritten – Cornwall and Java, Indonesia

ghostwritten book

Cover – Ghostly and atmospheric, we love the way the  ghostly face of the woman is blended over a scene of beauty…that is until you notice the war planes hovering over paradise…

Hope is a theme of this book which centered around a ghostwriter named Jenni who is tasked with writing the story of Klara, who as a child was interned in a camp on Java during the Japanese occupation.

As she tells of her story of survival, Jenni also has a story that she has buried for years and as she unravels the truth of Klara’s childhood, she must now start to shed light on her own.

Set in Java and Cornwall, this is  a very poignant read.

Booktrail here –

Foxglove Summer – Herefordshire England


Cover – Well the clue is in the title – we love this cover for its artistic feel and in keeping with the other 4 novels in the series is like a piece of art. Based on the map of Herefordshire (and we love maps) we like this for the way it makes us want to take off the cover, frame it and put in on our wall.

Special copper Peter Grant steps out of his comfort zone of London – to a small village in Herefordshire where the local police are reluctant to admit that there might be a supernatural element to the disappearance of some local children.

The supernatural aspects of this series keeps it fresh and very exciting. Have loved it since the first book and it makes you see places in London (and Herefordshire here) in a whole new light!

The Atlas of Us  – Thailand, Finland, Exmoor England and Serbia…


Spread over so many locations and times, we’ve selected this for a book to read as it starts getting chilly and you wish to travel off to exotic Thailand…

Cover –  So much to love about this cover, that boat is just waiting for you to step inside and to float off into the calm oasis pictured here with candles in the water, a colourful sky and what seems to be paradise….

Louise Fenton’s mother has been missing since the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami in Thailand. Wanting to find out what happened to her she flies to the devastated country. The only clue she has in a beautifully homemade Atlas, found in her mother’s bag, which has letters, cards, snippets of the life of a woman named Clare inside it.

Can this Atlas lead Clare to find out the geography and the history behind her mum’s disappearance?

This is  a story of a search for the truth and the secrets contained within a home made crafted Atlas…

Booktrail here –

The Silversmith’s Wife – London 


Prepare to shiver as you wrap your cloak around you, protect your lamp from the wind and hurry along the cobbled streets of London…..

Cover – Just how gorgeous and atmospheric is this cover? Everything from the moon shine, the outline of the trees, and the eerie glow of the lamp….who is this woman and where is she going?

This is the story of a night watchman who surveys the streets of London and who one night in Berkeley square finds the body of the local silversmith. Why was he killed and did he really have enemies who would want him dead? Set in the dark streets of 1792 London and in and around the cobblestones of Berkeley Square, this takes you back to the time and place and makes you look over your shoulder! Murder, secrets behind closed doors and the intricate world of the watchmakers…..

We hope you’ve enjoyed out four favourite book covers and would love to know yours!