Book Advent – day 21 – Festive book photos

Today the booktrail brings you Festive book photos –  from books set in places all over the world – and some in the world of fantasy and make believe –

Festive book display
Festive book display

 

Something to read under the tree
Something to read under the tree

 

 

Books with Christmas and winter themed titles
Books with Christmas and winter themed titles

Wool (mittens for making snowmen)- The Twelve (days of Christmas) – The Snowman – Dreamer (of Santa Claus) and Night Watch (keeping an eye out for Santa). I know that there is only a loose connection here but well I couldn’t help it hehe

The booktrail ends a year of travelling the world via books
The booktrail ends a year of travelling the world via books

 

Eeven the booktrail owl gets a little festive makeover. Oh what's that you've got? A book for me? Why thank you x
Eeven the booktrail owl gets a little festive makeover. Oh what’s that you’ve got? A book for me? Why thank you x

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?

Unknown

 

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?

Unknown

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

 

01-07mystery2_full_600

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!

Book Advent – day 18 – a trip to Hungary

book 1

Book Advent brings  you a rather interesting and unusual treat today – Before reading today’s book, I confess to not having read much Hungarian based literature and certainly had not read much of pre-1914 Hungary. So, two good reasons to include this on the book trail – my first trail in a new country and one that I cannot wait to take you on –

The story is a trilogy and all are included in one volume due to the publishers foresight  – you will want to read the whole lot so why not have them in one amazing volume.

They draw you in to a world of decadence, incredible scenery and well developed characters. Come right this way and join me in a trip to  –

 Early 1900s Hungary and Romania  –

castle

They Were Counted is the story of 2 cousins – Count Balint Abady and Count Laszlo Gyeroffy. As members of the aristocracy, they are priveleged although they take two paths in life – Balint is  a politician and Lazlo becomes a drunkard. Life at the Budapest court may be opulent but behind the dazzling backdrop there are dangers and dark corners lurking….

The awful boldness  of this adventure had unexpectedly  serious consequences

Dazzling  descriptions of the opulence of the Hungarian court immerse you in the sights and sounds and fragrant smells of the time. Oh the music, the music you can hear sing from the pages –

She sang beautifully, with the ease of a well trained voice, which, if not exceptionally powerful, was rich and warm especially in the lower register; and from the moment she started it was clear that she was entirely absorbed by the music  

Contrast this with the growing unrest on the political stage and it soon becomes clear that this privileged world can and will not last –

‘These duels are absurd,’ he said. ‘All duels are absurd! What would happen if someone really got angry? All that ceremonial! Such rubbish! Nothing more than games for children. If I wanted to kill someone I would shot them without a word.’

Miklos Banffy
Miklos Banffy – image courtesy of Wikipedia

This trilogy is important and particularly interesting due to the fact that the author  himself belonged to a family of note in Hungary – his family castle of Bonchida was partly destroyed by the Germans in 1944. Bonchida appears in the novels disguised as Denestornya.

Bonchida castle
Bonchida castle  – image courtesy of Wikipedia

– image courtesy of Wikipedia

– image courtesy of Wikipedia

Everyone mingled together, the richest beside the poorest, the lavish beside the meagre

The books were published in Hungarian between 1934 and 1940 and it is a particular delight that his daughter was one of the translators of his work into English.

These books are a story of two sides of a country, a world so far removed to any we see today and one which not many people will know about. The political scene may have been one of turmoil and the parties opulent but the true story is one of Hungarian society and the Hungarian language both of which can appear isolated and closed off from the rest of the world

With the passing years he became more and more aware of the gulf that divided him from his cousins, of the financial and social differences that set him apart.

Take a trip in an old fashioned carriage and recreate the opulence and the struggle of times gone by.

castle

Your guide is someone who was ideally placed to show you the true face of Hungary and its inner workings.

The clatter of wagons which had become so deafening during the last half-hour, began to die away behind him, leaving only the slight tinkling of the harness bells and the soft hiss of the wheels on the ground.

Written on the cover is the phrase – love, sex, money, power, beauty and the pathos of a society which cannot prevent its own destruction

They were counted is long and turbulent journey into a closed and secret society but it makes for one hell of a thrilling ride.

Book Narnia

The door to Book Narnia
The door to Book Narnia

This has been an amazing week as I finally got to go to Narnia. Well book narnia. I opened the wooden door, stepped in to a world covered in books.

Like Lucy, I was both nervous and excited to find myself in Narnia but I couldn’t wait to discover the land and its people. As soon as I entered the book by the magic doorway, I could sense a change in temperature and a wonderful scent wafting past my nose. It was the smell of old books – the best smell in the world. What visions would I see? What gems would I discover? I couldn’t wait to find out.

Suddenly a vision appeared. It said ' More books this way' I followed it straight away
Suddenly a vision appeared. It said ‘ More books this way’ I followed it straight away

I walked very slowly around the land of books, careful not to step on any little people or creatures that might be living here. I could be Gulliver to them after all. I would have to take care not to knock any books over. Who knows what damage I could do. I turned back in the direction i had come from eager to remember the path I had taken. Luckily I had a half eaten sandwich in my coat pocket which I took out and crumbled up in my hand. I scattered some of the crumbs behind me in an attempt to find my way back again. Well, it had been good enough for Hansel and Gretal I told myself. I then remembered where they had ended up so I told myself that I would keep my eye open for any nasty witch who might want to eat me.

The book tower
The book tower

I stopped in amazement beside a tower of books and held my breath as I heard a voice. Who was that? Dobby suddenly appeared from behind and smiled at me. Dobby asks if he can help the booktrailer. Dobby would like to assist you in showing you some books you might like in book narnia. I said yes I would love Dobby to show me round. He smiled at me nervously. Dobby has never been asked to show  book Narnia to a book trailer before. I smiled at him and asked him to lead the way.

books carpet the stairs
books carpet the stairs

The weather had suddenly changed in book Narnia so there now was a snowy carpet of books covering the floor and the stairs. We had to be careful as we navigated our way around. Watch out for the thriller books said Dobby. Some of them are scary and will jump out at you!

The thrillers - watch out for bad people and nasty surprises! Be Brave!
The thrillers – watch out for bad people and nasty surprises! Be Brave!

The romantic fiction tribe lives here said Dobby. These are special books who love for you to take home and sit them on your knee in front of a roaring fire.

The romantic tribe live here in these hallowed walls
The romantic tribe live here in these hallowed walls

These books will transport you away from Narnia and away to distant lands. You can climb the Magic Faraway Tree, learn languages and meet people like Pippi Langstrump from all over the world.

The_Magic_Faraway_Tree_1st_edition

I thanked him but decided to stay in Narnia for now although we did visit the little mini bookshop in Narnia where the Lilliputians, the oompah loompahs and the hobbits live

 

The mini version of book narnia
The mini version of book Narnia

It was nearly time for me to leave Narnia but before I did, I managed to collect a few books that I knew would take me on many more journeys once I had left Narnia and was back on the other side of the door.

Apparently I would soon be off to Wimbledon Common, back to school with the World’s Worst Witch and stop off to see Horrid Henry. Dobby said he would teach me some tricks to get my own back if I did see Henry.

I thanked Dobby and followed the trail of breadcrumbs to the door and out of Narnia

I leave Narnia but know that I will be back one day soon
I leave Narnia but know that I will be back one day soon

Back in the real world, I turned and smiled to myself. It looked just like a bookshop from the outside but in fact it was a Narnia of books that I just knew I would be going back to very soon.

I have the secret passageway that will take you to Book Narnia – you can enter it here- http://www.keelrowbookshop.co.uk/  – but careful! you enter at your own risk. You will probably come out with more books that you can carry and the booktrail can not be held responsible for any book emergencies or book accidents. Once inside hours can pass by without your knowledge and you may never get out….

Children’s book week

Children’s book week is of course upon us and Book Trust are running a cool poll whereby you can vote for your favorite children’s books out of a list of 100. I’ve cast my vote and have a few memories of my own from those on the list and from some that aren’t. See the full list here – http://www.booktrust.org.uk/news-and-blogs/news/222/

Even I am now an adult, I love love this little book and the other ones in the series. I don't think there is an age limit for books - a good book is a good book through out your life!
Even I am now an adult, I love love this little book and the other ones in the series. I don’t think there is an age limit for books – a good book is a good book through out your life!
My favourite as a child - my poor mother can still recit this by heart years later. it fascinated me so much...all that porridge! I used to wish my breakfast could do that.
My favourite as a child – my poor mother can still recit this by heart years later. it fascinated me so much…all that porridge! I used to wish my breakfast could do that.
What can I say? A classic. I started climbing trees not long after reading this book for the first time and am still hoping to find Moonface!
What can I say? A classic. I started climbing trees not long after reading this book for the first time and am still hoping to find Moonface!
Mum bought me this from a church shop to keep me from moaning one day. Having seen black and white photos of her one day as a child, I was convinced this story was true. Where had colour come from??
Mum bought me this from a church shop to keep me from moaning one day. Having seen black and white photos of her one day as a child, I was convinced this story was true. Where had colour come from??
A classic and my tip for learning Swedish. Language learning is fun this way!
A classic and my tip for learning Swedish. Language learning is fun this way!

I have kept all of these favourites of mine and regularly buy new ones despite not having any kids to read them to. Well, children’s books are timeless and ageless aren’t they. For big and small kids alike. I’d love to know your favourite books from your childhood or indeed those you love now. Please leave a message below

Book trail birthday

Happy WordPress birthday to me!
Happy WordPress birthday to me!

It’s my second blog birthday today and I’m so excited to have reached such an milestone that I wanted to write a little post on my special day. I’m celebrating with some literary friends and more are coming over. I hope you will want to celebrate with me as I never could have imagined that the book trail blog would be going and at such strength two years after I started it to chronicle my travels as a hobby. Thank you to everyone who reads the book trail and for all your comments. I have made lots of new friends via this site and love chatting about books with you all!

Which made me think – if I were to have a literary party, invite my favourite authors for example, then who would I invite? I can’t imagine selecting only a few of my favourite authors – I would have to invite them all. What a party we would have! I would be so honoured to have people from the past as well as from the present. Imagine chatting to Charlotte Bronte over a slice of cake? Or waiting to talk to Charles Dickens as he enjoys a smoke with Wilkie Collins? I have had dreams about such events.

So, for this party, I would like to invite you all to a literary party, a literary gathering at Deyning Park from The Last Summer- the surroundings of which  I became  totally immersed in during my time there wandering its halls and gardens when I first visited. Now it’s the setting for my special day..

My literary party awaits...
My literary party awaits…

Then as it gets dark, we will step out side to watch the Night Circus….courtesy of Erin Morgenstern

this would be the circus spectacular we would watch later
this will be the circus spectacular we would watch later

Now what literary delights will we eat? – let’s have a literary feast of foods including peaches and chocolat…courtesy of Joanne Harris

Monsieur Le Cure would provide the beaches
Monsieur Le Cure would provide the beaches

Now as for the rest of the guests..Let’s  turn the music up loud and shout for people to come on to the dancefloor. Yeah let’s get this party started!

Sara Sheridan has a hair raising experience at the literary party
Sara Sheridan has a hair raising experience at the literary party

I like it when my guests appear relaxed and happy…

Val McDermid seems like she's happy
Val McDermid seems like she’s having a good time!

Now, I did explain to my guests that they could come dressed as they were. No need for dressing up fancy or borrowing a dress even though we were having the party at Deyning Park. They should come dressed comfortably and ready for action. I guess someone didn’t get the memo…..

There is always one who doesn't get the memo
There is always one who doesn’t get the memo – Steve Cole yes I mean you

Yes, Arne Dahl, you may well look disgusted at this last guest. There is always one wanting to break the rules isn’t there!? Nice to see you yourself have made a fine effort and are dressed for Deyning  –

At least Arne Dahl is dressed accordingly
At least Arne Dahl is dressed accordingly

I shall leave you as the party continues – probably into the night. There will be a few sore heads tomorrow but a literary party is totally worth it as it is the best mix of characters, writers and locations I have ever had the pleasure of immersing myself in.

I’m off back to my party. Please come and join me won’t you? Happy blog birthday to all you other people out there on your special day!!

images are of book covers and from publicity photos taken at Edinburgh book festival

A new addition to my book family

Well, if ever there was a day where I was so overcome with book dizziness that I nearly fainted, this was it. It was the launch day of books are my bag – a genius campaign to highlight not only the good work but the great and invaluable work that local bookshops do for the literary good all over the country.

So, in order to show my support, I got up early and left my literary friends in the house chattering away to one another in the excitement of not knowing which new friend I would be bringing back to live with them that night. They knew that it would more than likely be a multiple delivery – I never do things by halves!

So, taking only one literary friend with me – to be there with me during the waiting and wondering period – before knowing which literary baby would be coming home with me, wrapped up in a brown blanket of paper – well it’s nice to have some support during what can be a testing and challenging time, I made my way towards the delivery room –

 

The Forum book 'nursery' - where bookish adventures are born
The Forum book ‘nursery’ – where bookish adventures are born

 

Aaah as I looked through the glass I saw all the newborns waiting for their parents to come and collect them –

 

The window of opportunity
The window of opportunity

 

My heart melted when I saw my book looking up at me – the bookseller hadn’t pointed her out yet but I knew as soon as I laid my eyes on her that she was mine.

 

Getting the new addition to the family nicely settled in
Getting the new addition to the family nicely settled in

Then I had some wonderful cake to welcome all this new addition to the literary world

Bless the little books xx I hope many of their parents came to collect them that day and will continue to go to their nearest place where books are born so that they might find a nice new owner and a nice new home. xx

 

Cuba on a train

A journey through Cuba
A journey through Cuba

This is a book trail via a train journey and what a thrilling ride it is –

It has all the ingredients of a good travel guide and an insight into not only cuban society and history but also the Spanish language spoken in Cuba. Language, travel, and humorous moments featured in one book. What more could I ask for?

 

Peter Millar, a journalist starts his trail from the the crumbling town of Havana on his way to the now infamous town of Guantanamo. One of his first observations on Havana is:

“I stroll out into the warm sticky afternoon heat to reacquaint myself with a city that is forever being built and forever falling down.”

This journey is one of sights,sounds, smells and tastes as the author takes us around the bars, clubs, museums and streets of the various places he stops off at. Due to the extreme heat, sweat and a chicken peeing on him, it may not be a journey you would want to take yourself but the beaten of this book is that you can get the best of it whilst sitting in your comfy armchair.

Even if you are not interested primarily in the politics or history of Cuba then you will at least be familiar  with some of the more Western images of it  – Che Guevara, Fidel Castro, the cigars, the rum and of course Buena Vista Social Club. This book does give a brief history lesson but it is much more than this – the history is merely a backdrop to a much more fascinating insight into a misunderstood country and its people.

 

It also shows us that sometimes our perceived perceptions of something are not always the truth or that the hidden story is often the most interesting. There are a lot of ‘well I didn’t know that moments as well about other Cuban facts such as the origins of the Hershey train – the same Hershey of the chocolate kisses fame.

Although never having been to Cuba, I identified with a lot of his travelling experiences and the comedy characters you can meet along the way- the woman dressed in a tent trying to smuggle banana milkshake, the frustrated train travellers, the over excited tour guide and of course the drunken stranger who insists on giving advice or in this case singing Phil Collins songs.

A particular strength of the novel to me was the linguistic story  – Cuba is Cuba which comes to mean so many different things as the book progresses. There are many linguistic insights – such as how the Cubans don’t seem to like the letter ‘s’ or to pronounce things in the same way that they do in the Spanish spoken in Spain.

 

And there’s the humour, the music, the different way of booking a train ticket, of queuing and  finding a place to stay.

 

Everywhere is different but in a lot of ways everywhere is the same – the characters, the pride, their instinct to survive and the love they have for their country and their traditions. I would have liked to have met these people and have a chance to talk to them too – like many of the people I met on my own travels, they are what I remember and who made the trip what it was.

The end of the book – when the author reaches Guantanamo is interesting as it is where we learn of the name behind the headlines and what it means to ordinary Cubans. I don’t want to give anything away but it a very interesting last chapter of the journey.

 

If you want to learn a little about the history and culture of Cuba then read this book. If you just want to go on an amazing journey across the island on a series of trains which are just as much a character in the story as are the humans, then read this book. If you are want to find out about something you think you know already, then read this book.

 

The title may say ‘Slow Train to Guantanamo’ but it is anything but slow. If anything it’s too short and only a snap shot of one man’s journey in a long line of trains.  It leaves you with the feeling you’re right there with the author himself. You feel as if you’ve stepped back in time and then at the end are thrust back into the present with the immortal line someone shouts whilst travelling with a mobile phone

 

‘Hiya, I’m on the train’

 

This book may be about a country stuck in the past but it really shows snippets of a country slowly changing and moving towards the future.

Let’s hope the trains get there too.

 

Cuba is Cuba after all.

Happy Book Lover’s Day!

Happy Book Lover's Day! A Kate Morton book in of of the most romantic languages of all - Spanish
Happy Book Lover’s Day! A Kate Morton book in of of the most romantic languages of all – Spanish

Today is Book Lover’s Day

And I am celebrating it in style

I love books. I am slightly obsessed with reading it has to be said. I love finding new book friends and rediscovering old ones. Libraries and book shops are, well, my idea of heaven so I have decided to post some pics of the books I love. The Kate Morton book pictured is the Secret Keeper in Spanish and it reads so beautiful in this romantic language as well as in English that I bought both versions. I always prefer the original but I thought this book cover was particularly apt for Book Lover’s Day!

Today is the day you need to pamper your books and show them your appreciation
Today is the day you need to pamper your books and show them your appreciation

This next book is a special favourite of mine – in Spanish – If you haven’t travelled to Barcelona via Carlos Ruiz Zafon then I urge you to do so. It’s an adventure you will never forget!

The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
The real symbol of book lover's day - Two books - from real life married couple. One written by the wife, the other by the husband. Book lover's unite!
The real symbol of book lover’s day – Two books – from a real life married couple. One written by the wife, the other by the husband. Book lover’s unite!

Spend the day with loved ones – your best book, your favourite book, the book you want to spend more time with.  And Happy Book Lover’s Day to you all!