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Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Ham and Egg Terrace features in Isle of Man novel

Safe House by Chris Ewan

A murder mystery that twists and turns as deftly as the sweeping curves of Marine Drive down near Douglas. Rob Hale, sometime TT racer awakes in hospital after an accident and is clear that, at the time of the accident, he was riding his motorcycle accompanied by a woman. There is, however, no sign of the woman and no evidence she ever existed. Rebecca Lewis arrives to investigate the recent death of his sister, Laura, and at the same time also helps him to piece together the events of the accident. Slowly they bring together the bits of the jigsaw.

The action takes place all over the island, bringing fabulous locations to life, mixing folklore with beautiful descriptions. Travel from Laxey village with the largest waterwheel in the world (still claiming to hold the title);  say hello to the fairies as you pass over the humped bridge to  Ballasalla or risk bad luck...or just meander around the island with Rob and Rebecca as your guides: "following a gentle gradient through the village of Foxdale, where the terraced and whitewashed cottages lined the road before beginning to climb  around South Barrule. Dense, knotted woods flanked the hillside until we gained  ground and a view opened  up across rectangular fields and flowering gorse and purple heather. The end of the valley was dominated by the tree-lined slope of Slieau Whallian, known in Manx folklore as the Witches' Hill. In medieval times, suspected witches had been rolled down its steep incline in spiked barrels. If they were killed, their death proved their innocence. If they survived, they were executed." exerpt from Safe House.

There are plenty of references to the TT Races, a course which spans a 37-mile stretch of road full of bends, hills, bumps, and man-made objects to add the extra challenge. The racers often reach speeds of 200mph. This book captures some of the excitement of the course and the background preparations that go on year round. This novel would be the perfect choice to take with you to read if you are visiting the Isle of Man, as it really transports you to this small island nestling in the Irish Sea. Click on the cover for more information, to buy through TripFiction and available now in paperback in bookshops.

And we at TF are just off for a plate of chips, cheese and gravy, which apparently is a favoured dish on the island (see how informative a novel can be!); Ham and Egg Terrace really does exist in Laxey - the history of the name is for you to discover in the novel; and a few words of Manx we have learned from the book: traa dy liooar (time enough). Enjoy visiting this island and truly, "see a location through an author's eyes"...

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Novels to take to the ski slopes

We have brought together novels and books to evoke the Alpine and snowsport feel over on Pinterest.   Click here
Courtesy Photoglob Zurich

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Paper Passion for book lovers

Courtesy of IPC Media

The international design and style bible Wallpaper*, together with German publisher Gerhard Steidl, fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld and celebrated perfumer Geza Schoen, has recently launched Paper Passion, a perfume that brilliantly captures the scent of freshly printed books. It is divinely packaged and a thing of beauty.

And we have been given one bottle (valued at over £60) with which to reward a friend of TripFiction! We would like to invite you to "like" us on Facebook and "like" the Paper Passion post. And on 1st January 2013 - which marks the first anniversary of TripFiction - we will choose one person at random who has visited and "liked" our page and post up to that date. They will then be sent the perfume. This is a big thank you to all of you who have actively supported us in this, our first year.

Just click on the link below and you will  be taken straight to our Facebook page. "Like" our main page and "like" the Paper Passion post for your chance to receive this wonderful item.

BookishWanderer received Paper Passion early January 2013.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Our top reads for 2012

Looking back over our (almost) first year of Tripfiction, one of the wonderful things we can say is that we have been introduced to glorious novels that we might never otherwise have encountered. 

Here we choose some of the books that have crossed our path this year, and that have really caught our imagination - both because they are evocative of location and offer a great storyline. These are the TripFiction top books of the year!

NO. 1. In the quiet of a New Zealand winter's night, a rescue helicopter is sent to airlift a five-year-old boy with severe internal injuries. He's fallen from the upstairs veranda of an isolated farmhouse, and his condition is critical. At first, Finn's fall looks like a horrible accident; after all, he's prone to sleepwalking. Only his frantic mother, Martha McNamara, knows how it happened. And she isn't telling. Not yet. Maybe not ever. Tragedy isn't what the McNamara family expected when they moved to New Zealand. (UK release 3rd January, 2013)
Set in Hawke's Bay and Napier, New Zealand


NO.2. A young woman travels from Edinburgh to Peking in the early 20th century,and writes about her experiences in diary form. She is trapped in a loveless marriage to a stiff and conventional man, and then falls in love with a Japanese warrior and pays dearly for that passion. It is then that Mary's real journey begins, as she begins to forge a new life for herself in Tokyo.
Set in Peking, China and Tokyo, Japan

NO.3. Harmattan (from an Arabic word meaning destructive wind ) tells the story of Haoua, a young girl growing up in a remote village in the Republic of Niger. Spirited, independent, and intelligent, Haoua has benefitted from a stable home life and a loving and attentive mother. She finds contentment in her schoolwork, her dreams of becoming a teacher and in writing assiduously to the family in Ireland who act as her aid sponsors. But for her, there are new storm clouds on the horizon. Haoua's mother's illness is much more serious and further advanced than anyone had recognised and her father's plans are turning out to be far more threatening than she could have ever imagined. Approaching her twelfth birthday, Haoua is alone and vulnerable for the very first time in her life.
Set in Niger, Africa

NO.4. Having left her job and boyfriend, thirty-year-old Sandra decides to stay in a Spanish village in order to take stock of her life and find a new direction. She befriends Karin and Fredrik, an elderly Norwegian couple, who provide her with stimulating company and take the place of the grandparents she never had. However, when she meets Julian, a former concentration-camp inmate who has just returned to Europe from Argentina, she discovers that all is not what it seems and finds herself involved in a perilous quest for the truth.
Set in Javea, Spain

NO.5. For seven-year-old Raami, the shattering end of childhood begins with the footsteps of her father returning home in the early dawn hours bringing details of the civil war that has overwhelmed the streets of Phnom Penh, Cambodia's capital. Soon the family's world of carefully guarded royal privilege is swept up in the chaos of revolution and forced exodus. Over the next four years, as she endures the deaths of family members, starvation, and brutal forced labour, Raami clings to the only remaining vestige of childhood - the mythical legends and poems told to her by her father. In a climate of systematic violence where memory is sickness and justification for execution, Raami fights for her improbable survival.
Set in Cambodia

Please add your personal top reads for this year - evocative of location together with a great storyline - in the Comments Box below.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Build up to Christmas through fiction

"The scent of cinnamon, orange peel and ginger perfumed the air, with a strong undercurrent of coffee. Outside the rain was battering against the large windows of the eau-de-nil-painted exterior of the Cupcake Café, tucked into a little grey stone close next to an ironmonger’s and a fenced-in tree that looked chilled and bare in the freezing afternoon."
(Extract from Christmas at the Cupcake Café by Jenny Colgan)

Only a few days before the holidays start and so it's time to gather together some fiction to enhance that Christmas feel, set, of course in different locations around this lovely world of ours. We hope you enjoy our selection - a list such as this can never be definitive as there are huge numbers of Christmas-themed books out there, so if you have a particular favourite do share it with others via the Comments Box. Let's make this a list to remember.

Click on the covers for more information.

The Night before Christmas by Scarlett Bailey
All Lydia's ever wanted is a perfect Christmas...So when her oldest friends invite her to spend the holidays with them, it seems like a dream come true. She's been promised log fires, roasted chestnuts, her own weight in mince pies - all in a setting that looks like something out of a Christmas card.
But her winter wonderland is ruined when she finds herself snowed in with her current boyfriend, her old flame and a hunky stranger. Well, three (wise) men is traditional at this time of year...

The Baker's Daughter by Sarah McCoy
1945. Germany. Elsie Schmidt is a naive teenager who has been protected from the worst of the terror and desperation overtaking her country by a high-ranking Nazi who wishes to marry her. So when an escaped Jewish boy arrives on Elsie’s doorstep in the dead of night on Christmas Eve, Elsie understands that opening the door would put all she loves in danger. Sixty years later, in El Paso, Texas, Reba Adams is trying to file a feel-good Christmas piece for the local magazine. Reba’s latest assignment has brought her to the shop of an elderly baker across town and the two stories unfold. Peppered with German Christmas customs and recipes.

Cold Comfort by Ellis Vidler
Claire runs the little Christmas shop called "The Mistletoe." After being dumped by her faithless fiancé, she has abandoned her dreams of a family of her own tucked neatly inside a picket fence. Instead, she's plotting her solo course and settling for a quiet life as an independent Williamsburg shop owner. So how does she become a killer’s target? Riley enters her life, a former security consultant, and as a result of an attack on a friend of a friend, the pair find themselves fleeing, whilst battling a powerful romantic chemistry.

Christmas at the Cupcake Cafe by Jenny Colgan
Issy Randall, proud owner of The Cupcake Cafe, is in love and couldn't be happier. Her new business is thriving and she is surrounded by close friends, even if her cupcake colleagues Pearl and Caroline don't seem quite as upbeat about the upcoming season of snow and merriment. But when her boyfriend Austin is scouted for a possible move to New York, Issy is forced to face up to the prospect of a long-distance romance. And when the Christmas rush at the cafe - with its increased demand for her delectable creations - begins to take its toll, Issy has to decide what she holds most dear.

Have a lovely Christmas and thank you to everyone who has supported us over 2012, our first year. We have now been up and running and growing for 11 months.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Menace and Malice in New Zealand

WHAT A FIND THIS BOOK IS! We have singled out this novel because it is superb on many fronts. A small family is confronted by an accident to one of their children in the opening chapter, and the storyline, as it goes back and forth is handled in a supremely competent way. It charts the family's move from Bedfordshire in England to New Zealand, and the story is set beautifully and evocatively within the country, a beautiful writing style and a good story.
Click on the cover for more information. You can help ordering a copy through our website (we get a small percentage which helps us to finance development of the TF site) or it is available from your local bookshop.

And - inevitably what drives us here at TripFiction - this novel really takes the reader into the New Zealand way of life, absolutely evokes the country, (love the little observations - like a Smoko is a tea break). Great descriptive prose through the eyes of the newly arrived family will surely transport readers to Hawke's Bay, this glorious part of country:... "For miles the road wound through New Zealand's native bush: subtropical rainforest complete with giant ferns, creepers and cabbage trees that looked like palms. Every bend brought another sharp-intake-of-breath view of raw-boned mountains and white waterfalls. These weren't quite English hills.They were angular and rock-strewn, like a Chinese painting; jagged peaks and drifting swathes of cloud".

And just look at this great description of Napier. We, for sure, at Tripfiction are now so tempted to visit! As a destination it hadn't come onto our radar before reading this book: "Napier was a small city - about  fifty thousand people - with a Mediterranean climate, a thriving port  and pacific beaches. That much we knew from the guidebook.  What we hadn't expected was its picture-postcard beauty. Flattened by a catastrophic earthquake in 1931 , it had risen phoenix-like  from the ashes. The result was an art-deco town with wedding-cake  buildings and a seafront boardwalk." And this for us, sums up what TripFiction is all about: it is the opportunity to explore a place through fiction, enjoy a some great prose and truly, enjoy seeing "a location through an author's eyes". Already a couple of reviews of this book are up on our site extolling its virtues.

Do talk to us via the Comments Box below. Share with other the books that have really inspired you to visit a place, or have captured a place so well that you can immediately connect. We know what we will be putting into our Top Ten reads at the turn of the year - what would your top read(s) of this year be, which is the book that has really transported you to a location?

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Help! Why is a Chanel 2.55 Handbag called a 2.55 handbag?

I Heart London by Lindsey Kelk

(or, Angela's guide to London)

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Hear ye, hear ye (the cry of the olde worlde British town cryer)....Get a glimpse of Britishness here! Author Lindsey Kelk flies her readers to London, immersing them into life in the metropolis, offering an experience that can only be enjoyed by being there. 
Descending into Heathrow, Angela, our guide and central character describes the approach, through champagne bleary eyes and this is what she sees:.... "And then it appeared. The opening titles of Eastenders* rolled out underneath me, the ribbon of river curling up and stretching out across the landscape, punctuated by large patches of green. My stomach slipped when I spotted the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye..."

The reader has landed in this, a bang on British book! Whether you long for M & S** knickers, a troll round Waitrose***, a browse in Topshop**** or the unique taste of a Penguin Bar ***** you can't get more British than this delicious story and how to plan a wedding 'Brit style'.

Based in south-west London with her parents, Angela is cajoled into organising her wedding to musician Alex, in her parents' garden, which smells  enticingly of newly mown grass (a very english smell indeed!). Will it actually go ahead? Will the caterers turn up?  Will Mark the ex appear? This book is a tour around London, a visit to some of the capital's wonderful shopping destinations and has a treasure of "names" - Marchesa for the bridesmaids; Jenny's Proenza Schouler bag for "stuff" and of course mention of the Chanel 2.55 bag (do leave a comment if you know why it is called this! Angela does but she's not telling!). And more....Magic FM and drizzle. Primrose Hill and London Zoo. Mahiki and Harvey Nicks.The Gherkin (Angela likes it!). And finally, the decision where to have the quintessential English afternoon tea? Should it be the Ritz or the Wolseley? Angela and her team are quite clear on this one but you will have to read the book to find out! This book really is a case of "seeing a place through an author's eyes" Enjoy! And click on the cover to find out more.

A Glossary of * Terms for non-Brits

* Easternders is a soap that has been on the BBC since time began - or long before salami became popular in the UK (see our last blogpost)
** M & S brings comfort shopping to most British folk (even if they don't all admit it!) - and as a true Brit you must buy your knickers and lunchtime sandwiches here (not necessarily at the same time)
*** Waitrose is an up-market supermarket and the food arm of John Lewis - the comfy-slipper department store where Middle England shops, and where "nothing is knowingly undersold" - the perfect reassurance for the perfect shopping experience
**** TopShop for that vital garment with good design and value price tag - every English woman will have one item somewhere in her wardrobe that originates from TopShop à la Kate Middleton or Kate Moss
***** Ah, Penguin Bars, a mix of crisp biscuit and chocolate covering, bars that cannot be bought individually but come in packs of 6. The typical Brit gets hooked on them, along with Mother's Milk, that is to say they make a frequent appearance on school menus (wonder what Jamie thinks of them?)

Photo courtesy of Google

So, to help out travellers to London, what might you suggest as a small, but truly English Experience for someone who wants just a touch of non-maninstream british culture? Where would you suggest afternoon tea? Which type of sandwich would you rate at M & S? Would you recommend a Penguin bar? Bourne and Hollingsworth...Beyond Retro....Liberty...

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Crime creeps through the streets of Scarborough

"The Other Child" by Charlotte Link

Photograph: Britain on View

This is lovely Scarborough on the East Coast of Britain. We are always
pleased to discover new books set in non-mainstream locations, whether,
say, Scarborough or Sheffield or Harwich - they all have their own individual
"feel" which authors bring to life, in tandem with a good storyline. Of course,
at Tripfiction on a daily basis, we accumulate a host of books that evoke
the feeling of places both large and small. "See a location through an author's eyes".
And as we do our researches, we are delighted to find books that perhaps do not come to the forefront in bookshops, or for whatever reason have not got the publicity they deserve - but are in their own way brilliant. And on our blog and Facebook we share them with you!

So, today, we feature a novel set in this part of North Yorkshire - and as it says
in the book: "Yorkshire is becoming one of the most popular holiday destinations
in England."

The author, Charlotte Link is, in fact German and "the Queen of German crime"
so we are incredibly curious to know how came she chose Scarborough
as her location - not the most obvious choice for someone raised and based

The Other child by Charlotte Link
Available from bookshops and through TripFiction: click on the link for more details 

Wander past the North Bay, down Prince of Wales Terrace, Huntriss Row and find yourself at the Crowne Spa Hotel. All of these real locations appear in Charlotte Link's book, The Other Child. It is steeped in the feel of the city. How about this wonderful description of the town: ..."two large semi-circular bays divided by a spit of land, as well as its old harbour, the fine houses up on South Cliff, and all the old-fashioned hotels whose façades had to stand up to the wind and the salt water and so were always peeling a little." (excerpt)

And what of the novel itself? It opens with an early murder and then comes to focus on a group of people have come together at the delapidated farm of Chad Beckett, just outside Scarborough, to mark the proposed engagement of Gwen, Chad's dull daughter and Dave, an itinerant language teacher. Staying at the farm are paying guests, Jennifer and Colin and for good measure their 2 Great Danes. Newly divorced Leslie arrives from London, and attends the gathering with her Grandmother, Fiona. Fiona and Chad have a long standing relationship, going back to World War II, which is explored separately in the book. Investigating the original murder and a second victim are DI Valerie Almond and her side-kick Sergeant Reek. These guys are the weak link in the story and one can only hope their bumbling investigations do not reflect reality.

It is a very readable crime novel, it veres one way, then another and produces a few red herrings. It reinforces the progress of the story by exploring the musings of the various characters and it is fast paced.

There are some anomalies, however, both in the translation and factually - for example, it describes a British family in North Yorkshire, just after the war, eating bread and salami. Er, unlikely. That is what a German family might have been eating but we think it is more likely an English family would have been eating spam! What do you think - Spam v Salami??????

So, this book is very much like the proverbial Curate's Egg -- good in parts. But the author must be doing something right, as on the cover it says "16 million books sold". Enjoy!

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Riotous romp in the Alps

Clamped by David Blackwell, set in Courchevel

This post now appears on the new TripFiction site and can be found here

Monday, 19 November 2012

Percy Passage, Schmidt's and London's Fitzrovia

Postcard from the 1960s - where are they all now?

This blogpost is now on our new website, click here


Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Travels in Tuscany, Italy

We are off to Tuscany, that delicious province in Italy, best known for its landscapes, traditions, history, artistic legacy and, of course, food. So the first book we feature has to be about food, it goes without saying..... (Click on the covers to find out more about each book)

Immerse yourself into the life and loves of Victoria Cosford as she spends periods of time in Tuscany, leaving her native Australia behind. It is full of delicious looking recipes and really initiates the reader into restaurant life in this beautiful part of the world. Just transport yourself to this little corner of Italy and savour this description from the book: I had never cared about lunch, until I was introduced to Sunday ones in Tuscan vineyards. Celebrations of food and wine  amongst friends  and family, they transcend the notion of mere meals and transform into a theatre for the senses.  It has as much to do with the setting, the compelling beauty of ancient surroundings, of land which has yielded produce for millennia, of eroded stone walls  and roads which wind through hills, and row upon row upon row of vines. There is little more glorious, in summer, than sitting through hours  of golden afternoons at a long wooden table with twelve or sixteen or twenty others, in winter warming limbs and souls with fires and food  and wine.
"Ciò che  si mangia con gusto non fa mai male"
What you eat with pleasure can never make you ill
Seven Seasons in Siena is the story of Rodi’s love affair with the people of Siena—and of his awkward, heartfelt, intermittently successful, occasionally disastrous attempts to become a naturalized member of the Noble Contrada of the Caterpillar. It won’t be easy. As one of the locals points out, someone who’s American, gay, and a writer is the equivalent of a triple unicorn in this corner of Tuscany. But like a jockey in the Palio outlasting the competition in the home stretch, Rodi is determined to wear down all resistance. By immersing himself in the life of the contrada over seven visits at different times of the year—working in their kitchens, competing in their athletic events, and mastering the tangled politics of their various feuds and alliances—the ultimate outsider slowly begins to find his way into the hearts of this proud and remarkable people.
Over the past several years, "the American in Tuscany," has become a literary sub genre. Launched by the phenomenal success of Frances Mayes' Under the Tuscan Sun, bookstores now burgeon with nimble, witty accounts of this clash in cultures - Americans trying to do American things in Italy and bumping against a brick wall of tradition. Before this sub genre exhausts itself, it's only fair that we hear the other side of the story - that of a native Tuscan and of dozens of Americans who have stormed through his life and homeland, determined to find in it whatever they are looking for, whether quaintness or wisdom, submission or direction. There is no one better to provide this view than Dario Castagno. A Tuscan guide whose client base is predominantly American, Dario has spent more than a decade taking individuals and small groups on customized tours through the Chianti region of Tuscany. Reared in Britain through early childhood, he speakes English fluently and is therefore capable of fully engaging his American clients and getting to know them.
Have you come across novels and books that have captured the heart and essence of Tuscany? Share them with others in our Comments Box - we always love to hear from you! And all our novels set in Tuscany can be found here

Sunday, 11 November 2012

The Aurora Borealis from the Clarendon Hotel, Quebec and much more...

Bonhomme   Tristesse   l'Amour  Malhomme Cirque du Soleil Caribou

WINTER WONDERLAND by Belinda Jones. 

Our review plus author interview can now be found here

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Author Interview with Mari Hannah

Settled Blood by Mari Hannah 

I met Mari Hannah on a cool, pre-Winter day in a cosy pub in the Tyne Valley to hear about her new book. Over a bowl of steaming soup and crunchy bread, she told me all about the inspiration that led her to write this, the second novel in the series featuring DCI Kate Daniels.

The locations for the new novel - which of course is what drives us here at TripFiction - are County Durham (Land of the Prince Bishops), the Northern Pennines and Hadrian's Wall. It was the remoteness of these locations that she was looking to use as a backdrop for the novel.

A lot of her work has psychological insight. As a former Probation Officer she had a great deal of training in law, sociology and psychology. Many of the police procedures she describes seemingly have a great deal of authenticity about them and she relies very much on her partner, a retired detective, who proofreads and offers a reality check.

Although she has always written poetry for friends, Mari came to professional writing in a roundabout way; an injury at work ended her career and she began writing as a form of physical therapy from a complicated wrist injury. It was then she realised she had a gift, that perhaps a career in writing might not be so difficult to achieve. 

Initially she trained in writing screenplays with the support of Northern Film and Media - and her first success was a romantic comedy, a far cry from what she is doing now! Then she wrote a poilot TV episode for the BBC as  part of a drama development scheme, based on the characters in the was to become her debut novel, The Murder Wall.

With the help of New Writing North she found her wonderful agent, Oli Munson, who has seen and supported her through the highs and lows of publishing. Books 3 and 4 are ready to go and the 5th one is currently a work in progress.

A while ago, local journalist, David Whetstone, commented that he liked the fact she was not afraid to use real place names. He said, 'You can follow the route taken by her heroine, DCI Kate Daniels, as she drives around Tyneside and the Tyne Valley. The pizzeria at the end of my street even gets a mention, as does the deli not far away.' Elizabeth Ashworth - herself an author of historical fiction - summed it up perfectly: "It's the little thrill of familiarity".

And it is great to be able to visualise the author's characters in known locations, whether it is the streets of Jesmond, Housesteads or Café 21 on Newcastle's Quayside!

Settled Blood by Mari Hannah

For more information on the book, and to purchase, just click on the cover, and available in bookshops now. 

'When a young girl is found dead at the base of Hadrian’s Wall, it’s not long before Detective Chief Inspector Kate Daniels realises her death was no ordinary homicide. She was thrown from a great height and was probably alive before she hit the ground. Then a local businessmen reports his daughter missing, has Daniels found the identity of her victim, or is a killer playing a sickening game? As the murder investigation team delve deeper into the case, half truths are told, secrets exposed, and while Daniels makes her way through a mountain of obstacles time is running out for one terrified girl'

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Passion and Politics in Pompeii

Think archaeology and many of us immediately think of Pompeii. As a city it lay buried for 1700 years, but in 1748 the first discoveries were made. We have chosen a couple of books that will take you back in time, to the drama of the Vesuvius eruption and give you insight into the build up of events as they began to unfold. Smell the ash, meet the people, feel the tension rise. And if you are a modern day visitor to Pompeii, don't forget to pop over to Ercolano (Herculaneum) which is quieter and also has lots to see.  Click on the covers to find out more and buy a copy.

On mountain slopes south of Pompeii a group of Roman citizens flees the doomed city, leaving their footprints in a layer of volcanic ash. Two thousand years later the footprints are rediscovered, and a joint Anglo-Italian dig is set up. Just when the project is making progress, eminent Oxford archaeologist Professor Julian Lockhart vanishes mysteriously. English detectives Nick Roberts and Lucia Fabri go out to assist the Italian police with the investigation, unaware of the sinister forces - both human and natural - that lie in wait for them. Their subsequent race for survival sweeps them up in an eerie re-enactment of historical events.

No virtual trip to Pompeii can be complete without a few words from Britain's 'best communicator on Classics around'... Pompeii explodes a number of myths - from the very date of the eruption, probably a few months later than usually thought; the hygiene of the baths which must have been hotbeds of germs; and the legendary number of brothels, most likely only one, to the massive death count which was probably less than ten per cent of the population. Street Life, Earning a Living: Baker, Banker and Garum Maker (who ran the city), The Pleasure of the Body: Food, Wine, Sex and Baths, these chapter headings give a surprising insight into the workings of a Roman town. At the Suburban Baths we go from communal bathing to hygiene to erotica. A fast-food joint on the Via dell' Abbondanza introduces food and drink and diets and street life. "A glorious insight into Roman life"

And finally from master storyteller, Robert Harris, comes this great novel. A sweltering week in late August. Where better to enjoy the last days of summer than on the beautiful Bay of Naples? But even as Rome's richest citizens relax in their villas around Pompeii and Herculaneum, there are ominous warnings that something is going wrong. Wells and springs are failing, a man has disappeared, and now the greatest aqueduct in the world - the mighty Aqua Augusta - has suddenly ceased to flow. Through the eyes of four characters - a young engineer, an adolescent girl, a corrupt millionaire and an elderly scientist - Robert Harris brilliantly recreates a luxurious world on the brink of destruction.

Early readers working on a review for TripFiction

If you know of any other Pompeii set books that you feel conjure up the era and the place, then please share the details in the Comments Box. As always we love to hear from you.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

No news; No Shoes: Island life on the Maldives

As the northern hemisphere heads into Winter, we, at TripFiction are certainly longing for warmer days. So, we are going to "have a holiday for the price of a paperback", we are heading off somewhere warm, where the sun shines and life is easy. Come with us to the Maldives and take a bit of time off, feel the warmth of the sun through the prose, the sand under your feet and enjoy some interesting storylines... Click on the links to go through to the book.

When thirty-year-old English teacher Anna Emerson is offered a summer job tutoring T.J. Callahan at his family's holiday home in the Maldives, she accepts without hesitation: a tropical island beats the library any day. T.J. has no desire to leave town, not that anyone asked him. He's almost seventeen and if having had cancer wasn't bad enough, he now has to spend his first summer in remission with his family instead of his friends. Anna and T.J. are en route to join T.J.'s family in the Maldives when the pilot of their seaplane suffers a fatal heart attack and crash-lands in the Indian Ocean. Marooned on an uninhabited island, Anna and T.J. work together to obtain water, food, fire and shelter but, as the days turn to weeks then months and finally years, Anna begins to wonder if the biggest challenge of all might be living with a boy who is gradually becoming a man...

Beach Babylon takes you behind the scenes at a five-star tropical island resort. Do all the stories which take place behind the closed doors of the exclusive spa have happy endings? What do the world's richest people expect from room service during their fortnight in paradise? What does the windsurfing instructor do to keep sane after hours?

We have come across this book and we are looking for someone to write a Lead Review for our site. Have you read this? Do you fancy reading this and submitting a review for us? Just a few words would be fab! 
Available on kindle only, it can be downloaded here:

And finally a bit of history from Thor Heyerdahl. One of the world's foremost explorers investigates the origins of Maldive history and discovers that the seemingly remote and insignificant islands on the Indian Ocean once formed a crucial crossroads for early pre-European civilizations

Can you suggest any more Maldives set fiction? We would love more suggestions, just talk to us in the Comments Box

Sunday, 28 October 2012

"Scandicrime" not only in Scandinavia

"Scandicrime" is almost becoming a genre in its own right, whether it is set in Scandinavia or further afield. The late Stieg Larsson is, of course, one of the best known authors of this genre. People from all over the world flock to Stockholm to follow in the footsteps of his characters, Kalle Blomquist and Lisbeth Salander, as they track down the perpetrators in the Millenium Trilogy. You, too, can take a walking tour with The Stadsmuseum and follow the trail from Bellmansgatan to Fiskargatan and other locations that feature in his books. 

Today we have brought together several authors who have caught our eye and really know how to set their characters in a variety of locations - you almost feel you are there with them, accompanying the protagonists, seeing the cities as they see them and, of course, all the while enjoying a good read. Click on the covers for more information and to purchase.

Australia Sweden  Latvia  Isle of Lewis

The Bat is the very first in the Jo Nesbø Harry Hole series. Harry is in Sydney to investigate the murder of Inger Holter, a Norwegian woman who happens to be working in Australia. Inger was young, blonde and her body was found dumped in Gap Park. She was raped and strangled. With more murders and mysterious disappearances Harry Hole takes on the case, but simultaneously attracts the attention of a ruthless and cunning serial killer.

The Dogs of Riga by Henning Mankell. Sweden, winter, 1991. Inspector Kurt Wallander and his team receive an anonymous tip-off. A few days later a life raft is washed up on a beach. In it are two men, dressed in expensive suits, shot dead. The dead men were criminals, victims of what seems to have been a gangland hit. But what appears to be an open-and-shut case soon takes on a far more sinister aspect. Wallander travels across the Baltic Sea, to Riga in Latvia, where he is plunged into a frozen, alien world of police surveillance, scarcely veiled threats, and lies. Doomed always to be one step behind the shadowy figures he pursues, only Wallander's obstinate desire to see that justice is done brings the truth to light.

The Black House by Peter May is the first in the Isle of Lewis trilogy. 'In mood and texture, Peter May's novels, set on the Isle of Lewis, are essentially Nordic, and he bears comparison with some of the best writers from those cold desolate climes' The Times.

The Mind's Eye by Håkan Nesser starts out with Janek Mitter, as he stumbles into his bathroom one morning after a night of heavy drinking, to find his beautiful young wife, Eva, floating dead in the bath. She has been brutally murdered. Yet even during his trial Mitter cannot summon a single memory of attacking Eva, nor a clue as to who could have killed her if he had not. Drawing a blank after exhaustive interviews, Chief Inspector Van Veeteren remains convinced that something, or someone, in the dead woman’s life has caused these tragic events. But the reasons for her speedy remarriage have died with her. And as he delves even deeper, Van Veeteren realizes that the past never stops haunting the present . . .

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. His books have sold over 60 millions copies worldwide and this is the first in the Millenium Trilogy. Setin Södermalm, a trendy, bohemian district in Stockholm, where charming galleries and cafes mingle with historic wooden cottages.Central to the plot are Kalle Blomquist, a journalist convicted of libel and Lisbeth Salander, an expert system hacker and investigator, who can see patterns and links in the investigation that are not evident to to others. Blomquist is employed to investigate the unsolved disappearance of Harriet Vanger in the 1960's and together they start to explore the complex story - violence, and suspense, set against a Nordic backdrop.

We are sure readers out there have their favourite Scandicrime authors, so please come and share your "must read" authors with us here in the Comments Box and introduce others to your chosen fiction.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Tripfiction visits Texas

The American elections came and went, Dallas, the TV show has come and gone, we thought, how about taking our readers over to Texas for a jolly good read.. Enjoy! Click on the cover if you want to find out more. You can purchase via TF (click on the cover) or find the novels in your book store.

Stardust by Carla Stewart is set in Texas of the 1950s. Shortly after burying her unfaithful husband, Georgia Peyton unexpectedly inherits the derelict Stardust motel from a distant relative. Despite doubts from the community and the aunt who raised her, she is determined to breathe new life into it. But the guests who arrive aren't what Georgia expects: Her gin-loving mother-in-law; her dead husband's mistress; an attractive but down-on-his-luck drifter who's tired of the endless road; and an aging Vaudeville entertainer with a disturbing link to Georgia's past.

Lone Star Noir by Bobby and Johnny Byrd - One can drive around Texas for a long time and never meet J.R. Ewing or Woodrow McCall. The real Texas hides out in towns and cities like those that readers will find in these stories. In that very Texan reality, among the everyday good folks of the state, readers will find the hard-boiled understanding of guns, dope, blood money, greed, hatred and delusion that makes these 14 stories come alive on the page.

Faith Bass Darling's Last Garage Sale by Linda Rutledge. Faith Bass Darling is the sole occupant of the family mansion in Bass, Texas. She is succumbing to Alzheimers and on the last day of 1999 hears the voice of God and starts hauling the family antiques out of her Victorian mansion and holds a garage sale on her front lawn. Her life is told in a series of flashbacks, family losses are movingly and sensitively told.
"The trials of people in a small Texas town are vividly captured in this beautiful first novel"

Share with us in the Comments Box below, any novels you know of that capture the heart of Texas. We'd love to hear from you and we need you to help us build TripFiction into a really top resource for travellers.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

For the love of cricket. Kabul. New York. Sri Lanka.

We have brought together a couple of novels with a cricket theme. Perfect for all those out there who just love the game! The sport is right at the heart of these books. (Great presents perhaps for the cricket lover in your family???). Enough said, here are the books and just click on the links to find out more (and buy a copy if you wish!!)

Kabul - New York - Sri Lanka - Western Australia

Set in war-torn Kabul, a harrowing yet tender novel - Bend it Like Beckham in a burqua - about one woman's courage and guile in the face of tyranny. Enter Rukhsana. A cricket tournament is announced, with the winning team to travel to Pakistan for training and then represent Afghanistan at an international level. In reality, the idea is surreal. The Taliban will never embrace a game rooted in civility, fairness and equality. And no one in Afghanistan even knows how to play cricket, except Rukhsana. The tournament offers hope - a means of escape for her brother and young cousins. 

"A soaring novel of resilience, strength, hope and tenderness, The Taliban Cricket Club reveals how love can overcome, and outwit, the power of tyrants"

In a New York City made phantasmagorical by the events of 9/11, and left alone after his English wife and son return to London, Hans van den Broek stumbles upon the vibrant New York subculture of cricket, where he revisits his lost childhood and, thanks to a friendship with a charismatic and charming Trinidadian named Chuck Ramkissoon, begins to reconnect with his life and his adopted country. As the two men share their vastly different experiences of contemporary immigrant life in America, an unforgettable portrait emerges of an "other" New York populated by immigrants and strivers of every race and nationality.

Book details "Hats off to any author who can have me on the edge of my seat over a game of cricket!" Summer, 1965. In the fictional town of Corrigan, WA.
Late one night, thirteen-year-old Charlie Bucktin is startled by a knock on his window. His visitor is Jasper Jones. Rebellious, mixed-race and solitary, Jasper is intriguing. And he needs Charlie's help. In the dead of night, the boys steal through town, and Charlie learns of Jasper's horrible discovery. Burdened by a terrible secret and the weight of a town's suspicion, Charlie feels his world closing in.
After this summer nothing will ever be the same again.


Ambitious, playful and strikingly original, Chinaman is a novel about cricket and Sri Lanka - and the story of modern day Sri Lanka through its most cherished sport. Hailed by the Gratiaen Prize judges as 'one of the most imaginative works of contemporary Sri Lankan fiction', it is an astounding book.

Can you help us build up a database of cricket themed fiction? 

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Chosen novels for China

Where to start to suggest novels set in and evocative of China? It's such a big country and there are so many books, set in so many different regions that will transport you this area of the world. We have, therefore, chosen three personal favourites to send our readers on their way. Click on the covers to find out more about each book and you have an option to purchase - any book bought through our site means we receive a small percentage of revenue, at no cost to the purchaser and this will help us build TripFiction into an even more valuable resource for travellers.

The Foremost Good Fortune by Susan Conley has long been a favourite of ours. It is a very personal story, set in Beijing, as the author struggles with her own health issues and adjusts to a very different life in a foreign country.

“The Foremost Good Fortune is a beautiful story of womanhood, motherhood, travel and loss, written by an author of rare and radiant grace.” Elizabeth Gilbert

River Town by Peter Hessler, is a "way of seeing" a country, descriptions abound and insights are plentiful. Hessler, an American student, takes up an English teaching post in the remote town of Fuling where the River Wu meets the Yangtze. He starts by learning some of the characters on a sign and by the end he can read so much more - and in between he has taken the reader through his experiences of life in this little town, populated by fascinating characters.

Who could resist a book with such a delectable title? Home is a Roof over a Pig by Aminta Arrington - This is the story of one family's culture shock, as they settle to a new life in China. If you are relocating, or want greater understanding, or retrospectively want to capture time you have spent in China, then this is definitely a read for you.

Become part of the TripFiction community - come and suggest books that are evocative of places. Come and write reviews - nothing complex needed, just share your thoughts. And check our our Facebook page where we load books that have caught our eye
whilst researching new books. And, as ever, if you can suggest terrific titles that bring China to life, share your insight in the Comments Box below, we love to hear from you.