A literary journey around the world and back again

Literary journey around the world part 2 – more countries to cover and more adventures to be had:


The Visitors

Sally Beauman

If you’ve ever wanted to feel as you’re standing beside an iconic figure in history as he makes that history, then how about meeting Harold Carter and being one of the first into the tomb of  Tutankhamen ?

I really enjoyed this book for the mix of fact and fiction. Much of it was based on real people and certainly real places and the iconic moment of discovering the tomb, revealed as if being there yourself, was just a very memorable reading experience. I love stepping back in time and seeing an event or a person as it might have happened and this was particularly real I felt. A book to read and immerse yourself in. I had no particular interest in  Egyptian history as such before reading this book but this was an eye opener!

OCEThe South Atlantic

How to Be Brave

Louise Beech

Two stories woven together in a very creative and clever way. A mother showing concern and love for her daughter who is sick, tells her the story of the girl’s grandfather who was adrift at sea. By telling her the story, they forget momentarily their own anguish but bring themselves closer to the grandfather and his bravery. The overall theme is survival and hope in the most extreme circumstances – lost in an illness or the ocean, the feeling is the same but bravery and the power of hope can help them all.



A holiday retreat on a mountain

The Lie

C L Taylor

The sense of adventure with this book was breathtaking. Holidaying up a mountain retreat with your best friends? It might be in the wilds of nowhere but you’re with people you know and trust right? Isolation can b both relaxing and frightening at the same time and this for me ramped up the tension. A retreat sounded great, even if I’ve never done yoga myself, yet the twists and turns I  felt with this book made me think as if I have now.


Back home….to the UK


I Let You Go

Clare Mackintosh

This was a novel I was not expecting. Not from the blurb or the general information out there on the web. I’d heard of ‘the twist’ but was still not expecting the one that came.

Written by a former detective, this gave it added gravitas but was especially clever was the way we followed Jenna and judged what she did and what she was doing without thinking of the bigger picture. Jenna is trying to escape but from what exactly? She settles in Wales and lives an isolated life but sometimes silence can be deafening. This book was one of Richard and Judy’s summer picks for 2015 and was reviewed on Loose Women so everyone was talking about it and still is!


EngThe book that took me here there and everywhere

The Versions of Us

Laura Barnett

Remember those books that you read as a child where you could pick the end or the turn of events? Where you felt you had a part to play in the fate of the characters? This is the  grown up version of that idea – the Sliding Doors  of the book world – where you go literally on a journey with the characters and see how things could have turned out had they happened differently. I loved the style of this, the idea and the way it was written. It was one of the most involving novels I’ve read in a long while and stands out for being very different and a real treat. It’s on the Richard and Judy picks for 2016 and very well deserved!


Susan booktrailer


A literary traveller – and all things French

Today we hand over the reins to Emma Cazabonne of the book blog Words and Peace. She is an English to French literary translator and loves French books and books set in France in particular!. Emma it’s over to you:

Emma in her favourite place – Shakespeare and Company Bookstore in Paris

Bonjour and thank you for having me today at The Book Trail.

I was born and raised in France, growing up in the Champagne and the Burgundy regions. I was an English teacher in France and when I came to live in the US fifteen years ago, I started teaching French online. I’m also an English to French literary translator  I am also an artist, painting almost exclusively on rocks.

1. Hi Emma you write the Words And Peace blog which features all things French and books set in France. Why did you start writing this blog?

Actually my book blog, Words And Peace, is very eclectic. I also review lots of historical novels for instance, not set in France, mysteries and nonfiction, among other genres!

Those who know me in real life notice that I can’t refrain from talking about what I read. When I discovered there was a species called ‘book bloggers’, who keep raving about the books they love, I knew I had to join! So I launched Words And Peace just 5 years ago, for a larger place to review the books I love and connect with other book lovers.

2. You’re planning to read So You Don’t Get Lost in the Neighborhood by Patrick Modiano set in Paris. Why did you choose this book and can you tell us more about it?

You may remember that French author Patrick Modiano won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2014. I have loved his novels since I was a teenager. This novel is his latest, published just a few weeks before he got the award.

I was planning to read it in the original language of course, but it was right there on display at my (awesome) publish library. So really, how could I hesitate? I actually plunged into it right away, as I had to wait for someone, and before I left the library, I had already read a third of the book! Did anyone say I am a passionate reader? Lol

I’m not going to review it here, but I can say that it’s a typical Modiano novel, with a “greyish” ambiance, with characters that show up in previous books by him, and where the main character is actually the city of Paris itself. This novel is in between literary fiction and mystery. A short, perfect introduction to Modiano for those who don’t know him yet.

3. Book bingo is a smart feature of your blog. From your 2015 bingo card, can you tell us of a romance book set in France and one with a French word in the title that you would recommend?

Thanks! I have organized a French Challenge for several years, and I thought a bingo twist would be fun for this year.

I personally do not read much romance, but I highly recommend this historical novel, based on a most famous medieval French couple, with a lot of romance and heartache involved: The Sharp Hook of Love, by Sherry Jones

An amazing one with a French word would be Mademoiselle Chanel, by  C. W. Gortner. Stunning!

4. France Book Tours is your virtual book tour company where you showcase books set in France and invite readers to review them on their own book blogs. Why is it important for you to write about books set in your native country and/or written by native writers?

When I got seriously into the world of book blogging, I started signing up to review books for virtual book tours. I noticed virtual book tour companies were usually specialized in a specific genre.

At the same time, I got aware of the impressive number of books published every month that were written in English but set in France, or about France. So I knew this was an undiscovered niche I had to tackle, and that’s how France Book Tours was born.

Americans are very fond of France, but not everyone can afford to travel there on a regular basis. So why not travel through books, right? And when you can get these books for free, what’s not to love? Our readers receive the book for free, they just commit to review it on their own book blog at a specific date, just like it works for any other virtual book tour company.

We also feature books originally written in French and then translated in English: there’s a real mine of amazing writers in France, but if you don’t read French, you may not even hear about them. So if their books get translated, I want as many English readers as possible to discover them.

5. You are a French translator and have translated several novels. Which has been the hardest or most enjoyable to translate and why?

The most challenging has certainly been my very first historical novel, Orgueil et honneur, written by Nathaniel Burns. It’s a rather long novel set at the time of Charlemagne. I had to do a lot of research, for instance on how you would address a bishop in French at that period. Plus, I did this translation through a specific company that has not yet paid me one cent for my hard work…

My most enjoyable translation is a contemporary mystery set in the South of the US: Au nord de Folly-sur-mer, by author Tanya Anne Crosby. It’s a fun book, with great descriptions of the surrounding landscapes, very lively dialogs, and wonderful job in character development.
When a book has so much substance, even though translating is always a difficult challenge, it requires all your creativity, and so is very enjoyable.

Actually I also translated the sequel, just as great, À l’ouest de la mort, and the prequel, Les derniers moments de Florence W. Aldridge.

I’m currently translating another novel by the same author, this time set in Scotland in the 13th century!

6. Can you recommend us some of your favourite books set in France?

(the Da Vinci code really sparked a influx of readers to the Louvre and Saint Sulpice. can you tell us of a place which is important literary style to yourself in some way?)

OMG, there are so many! I have read 30 books set in France so far this year, so I’m going to pick a few titles from this year only.

One of the last great historical novels I read is The Sisters of Versailles, by Sally Christie. It’s great to see that publishers are finally slowly discovering that the French court was just as interesting as the Tudors.

There’s a French mystery writer I really enjoy: The City of Blood, by Frédérique Molay.

And I really enjoyed this short literary novel, about a short ride between Champagne and Paris: The 6:41 to Paris, by Jean-Philippe Blondel.

To discover more, just follow the I Love France Category on my blog.

I don’t have a specific literary place important to me. But I lived in the Champagne region and often too the train, so this last book resonated a lot with me.

Also, I love the Burgundy region where I spent many years, so it’s always fun bumping into it in books. For instance, there’s a whole series translated from the French, about a detective who is also a winemaker. Each cozy mystery in the series focuses on a different wine region. The one on Burgundy is Nightmare in Burgundy, by Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noël Balen.

One of my pictures taken in Burgundy:

Burgundy (c) Words and Peace

Thanks for having me today and for your wonderful questions.

Your readers can follow my reading activity on my blog: Words And Peace.

You can subscribe through email or through Bloglovin not to miss a post.

Also through Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube.

And there are always great books available for free to review on France Book Tours, as well as giveaways organized every month.

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 – http://worldbookday.com/

An ode to postmen – via books


This morning a postman brought 5 books to booktrail towers. As we often order books on line and get sent them, not to mention sending out books on competitions, we see postmen struggling under their weight.


So today when a lovely cheery chap knocked on the door, I skipped to the front door with the anticipation of new books on my baited breath. I knew this was going to be a good moment – there were some humdingers in the expected bundle. But more so as it was torrential rain outside that I was extremely grateful that a delivery was being made at all.

There are booktrails to be done this weekend! With the novels we have now, we’re off to Germany, Colorado, Spain and many more places via a book. For now these are just some of the locations our post themed books have taken us in the UK –

The Clyde setting in The Postcard - Charring Cross Road in London, famvous for the letters and love affair between two bookstore owners - Sissinghust Castle, inpsiration for Kate Morton's Distant Hours which has the line ' It started with a letter'
The Clyde setting in The Postcard – Charring Cross Road in London, famous for the letters and love affair between two bookstore owners – Sissinghurst Castle, inspiration for Kate Morton’s The Distant Hours which has the line ‘ It started with a letter’

Opening the door, there was a postman wrapped up so tight in a jacket that you could barely see his face, and what you could see of it was hidden by the flow of rain, it was down his face, in his eyes, all over his bag. He was like a walking Niagara Falls. I offered him shelter but he persevered on. More books appeared from under his arm, in his bag. He apologised if they were wet! This man was bringing books – spreading reading joy – his arms must have been dead with the weight. And as for the books? – in perfect condition the parcels only having a few little drops on them if anything.

Some books about letters and post - plus a very deluged postman!
Some books about letters and post – plus a very deluged postman! The Postcard has destinations all over the world, Kate Morton’s book on a letter which started it all, and the famous literary love affair in letter form


So if you see a damp postman with a broken arm, give him a hug. For the booktrailers will be forever grateful for the day this cheery chap made our day. He cracked a joke, gave a smile and went on his merry way.

Royal Mail we depend on you so much and we salute you for now this weekend we are able to do what we love and travel via books. We hope you come with us –

Booktrails –

The Postcard – https://thebooktrail.wordpress.com/2014/10/24/the-postcard-scotlandcairolondon-bruges-adelaide-leah-fleming/ 

The Distant Hours –https://thebooktrail.wordpress.com/2014/11/07/the-distant-hours-kent-kate-morton/

Charing Cross Road – https://thebooktrail.wordpress.com/2014/11/07/84-charing-cross-road-london-and-new-york-helene-hanff/

Out of this world – World Book Night


To celebrate World Book Night the booktrail has chosen one of the many titles on offer to review and talk about since, well, if ever there was a book more apt to be mentioned on World Book Night then it is a book that is quite literally out of this world, if you excuse the pun.

The story of the Humans

What is to be human? We are complicated creatures, capable of the best and yet also of the the worst.

Set in Cambridge – 

Cambridge - image by Wikipedia. Is that the professor in the boat by any chance?
Cambridge – image by Wikipedia. Is that the professor in the boat by any chance?

Professor Andrew Martin makes a discovery that could change the world.

He is a mathematical genius and workaholic who has managed to solve a major mathematical problem, which could lead to a huge breakthrough in scientific advancements and possibly even widespread space travel.

Aliens find out and are not surprisingly unnerved at this discovery and so one alien invades the body of the professor, kills him and inhabits his body. Now, looking like the professor and talking like him, he has to learn to be him and to find out if he told anyone of his findings and workings out to do with the theory. Oh and to eliminate his wife and son as well.

What on earth would the humans do with this information this professor has discovered?

The human who discovered it of course must die, but in order to blend in and find out what information he had about his discovery and another life form then the alien has to blend in and adopt their way of life

Cue a culture clash of epic and ALIEN proportions

  • learning the value of clothes (especially of the importance of not being naked in public )
  • Spitting at someone is NOT a greeting

But what happens when the alien starts to understand a little of these funny human people. Could he be putting his whole mission to Earth in jeopardy?

The humans are an arrogant species, defined by violence and greed. They have taken their home planet, the only one they currently have access to , and placed it on the road to destruction.

You  must never fall into the humans trap

You must never soften m or shrink from your task

stay pure 

retain your logic


One thing that I’m sure that the alien would certainly be able to grasp on first sight is the reason why we humans are so excited about world book night. An interview with the alien I would imagine, would go like this –

  1. to get more humans and of course aliens to read more books – There is one genre in fiction. The genre is called ‘book’
  2. To place books into the hands of humans who for some reason don’t read. Is there really such a thing on earth?
  3. To raise the profile of reading for pleasure for humans  -what other kind of reading is there?  – although Charlotte’s web does make both humans and aliens cry alike.
  4. To improve the literacy of humans in the UK and Ireland and aliens wherever they be in the universe
  5. To bring humans and alien life forms together, preferably around a good book.

You’ve got these people saying that aliens are obviously made up as because War of the Worlds and Close Encounters of the Third Kind was made up and even though they like those things, they kind of formed a prejudice in their head that aliens can only be enjoyed as fiction.

Some other titles of fiction that humans and aliens can enjoy together -set in Dartmouth, Brighton and San Francisco
Some other titles of fiction – World Book Night Titles – that humans and aliens can enjoy together -from left to right – set in Dartmouth, Brighton and San Francisco

So open up your world, heck even your universe

Like that alien…

Go somewhere where you have never been to before, meet someone new, immerse yourself in a new landscape and a new adventure

…with a book

Humans are not the centre of the Universe.

Books are.


A Russian jewel in the literature crown


As with Turkey, the incredible country we featured yesterday and its city pick guide, we booktrailers do not have much experience of Russia either. However, when there is a city pick guide on St Petersburg, you don’t need to go there for real. But if you do, your visit will be all the richer if you read this before you go –

Anna Pavlova describes her school days

Vladimir Nabokov re-lives a St Petersburg winter

Helen Dunmore plunges us into the worst of times

Dmitry Shostakovich reveals a musical secret

Truman Capote takes Porgy and Bess to the Soviets

Nikolai Gogol walks us down Nevsky Prospekt

I am personally fascinated by this city, mostly due to my literary wanderings with Russian literature I have come across on my travels in bookshops. Well this book has a wealth of snippets from non- fiction and fiction to be able to tempt you around St Petersburg and maybe even further afield!

St Petersburg - image courtesy  of Wikipedia
St Petersburg – image courtesy of Wikipedia

St. Petersburg is a dream of a city –

The founding of St Petersburg in 1703 was Peter the Great’s ‘I have a dream’ moment. He did, indeed, have a clear vision of the elegant, enlightened European-style city on the River Neva…


These short introductory texts lead nicely into the range of writers who each in turn give their impression of the city either in a short paragraph or a section of their book. Perfect for hoping in and out of as you would ona tour of the city itself.

Helen Dunmore is the first to take the literary stand –

Floating, lyrical, miraculous Petersburg, made out of nothing by a Tsar who wanted everything and didn’t care what it cost. Peter’s window on Europe, through which light shines. Here’s beauty built on bones. classical facades that cradled revolution, summers that lie in the cup of winter.

The epauletted shoulders f the Winter Palace - image courtesy of Wikipedia
The epauletted shoulders of the Winter Palace – image courtesy of Wikipedia

In Duncan Fallowell’s One Hot Summer in St Petersburg for example –

..the winter canal and beyond it the epauletted shoulders of the Winter Palace……

And then there’s Malcolm Bradbury whose novel To the Hermitage contains the kind of historical information that makes it come alive right off the page. Peter the Great for example becomes a very colourful character –

A boisterous young man who broke windows, turfed friends, acquaintances, even total strangers into hedges, he drank and whored with the best.


A trip through not only the city of St Petersburg but also of Russia and its past. Visit places in novels – not just of the one or two you may know such as War and Peace and Anna Karenina – discover more about Russian literature and authors, walk down the same streets and meet people from history.


All in one book.

Quite a read

Big Day for Quick Reads!!


Reading is fun and takes you to so many different places. I’ve had The Gift Of Rain in Malaya , been a wizard at Hogwarts, climbed through the wardrobe into Narnia, taken in the scent of  A Midnight Rose in India and gone backpacking with Emily Barr…..

So many books and so little time! But then I discovered Good Reads – short novels of about 100 pages each  – quick reads indeed  – books you can finish in a short time but still get the enjoyment of  meaty fully formed stories.

These books are quite frankly literary midget gems and not only are they a brilliant addition to your library, they serve a very important purpose  – encouraging people to read. According to the Quick Reads website –

1 in 6 adults of working age in the UK find reading difficult and may never pick up a book.  People’s reasons for not reading are varied but are often based in fear. Some people say they find books scary and intimidating, thinking they are ‘not for them’ or that books are difficult or boring.

Quick Reads sets out to challenge these beliefs and to show that books and reading can be for everyone.

Reading a 400 page novel might seem daunting to some and I know many people who feel that reading is too much effort. Now whilst I may not share their views, I do understand that reading is off putting to those who may not be used to reading or who have not grown up around books. I myself love books since they have taught me languages and helped me to travel and discover some fascinating literature and people, not to mention cultures and music. Kate Morton’s words in particular often come to mind  on the subject of books-

After all, it’s the librarian’s sworn purpose to bring books together with their one true reader. (The Distant Hours)

I think now we might say that –


 It’s Quick Reads’ sworn purpose to bring books together with their one new reader.

The booktrail therefore is proud to help promote the Quick Reads idea since books and reading around the world are two things we hold most dear at Book Trail towers.

Today is launch day  – if you value reading as much as we do – then help us spread the word – give a book (they’re only £1 each),  share your stories with someone, read them all yourselves. What ever you do, just be sure that you do it with the Quick Reads idea at the forefront of your mind.

For more information on Quick Reads then please visit their website – http://www.quickreads.org.uk/ 

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 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