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Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Amazing fiction set in Amsterdam

A couple of delectable novels set in Amsterdam, both very different and selected from our collection of city set fiction. If you are looking for a specific genre just title an e mail Book Butler at and we will help you find great literature that evokes a location - an innovative way to get a feel for a place.

"see a location through an author's eyes"

A strange and mesmerising book, set in Amsterdam. Two couples - the two men are brothers - meet over dinner one evening and the structure of the book is governed by the courses of the meal, various dishes pepper the plot, you can almost hear the sound of the cutlery clinking on plates. The polite discourse circumnavigates the core event, perpetrated as we find out by the offspring of the two couples. It is a stylish and sometimes quirky read, darkly delicious in parts and thought provoking. Does it conjure up Amsterdam? It certainly has a Dutch flavour but it is the storyline that captures the imagination.

In contrast this is a richly evocative novel set in the wintry city. This is a story which stretches back over 250 years. Ruth Braams is an art historian who works on processing claims on artwork stolen by the Nazis during their occupation of the Netherlands. One day in the Rijksmuseum, she meets an elderly lady called Lydia who has registered a claim on an odd little painting - and here begins a dark adventure.

Whether it is The Diary of a Young Girl (Anne Frank) or books about Tulip Fever, come and share the books that have transported you to the canals of Amsterdam here, in Comments. Love to hear from us to make this a valuable resource for travellers.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Viva Las Vegas in Fiction

As Las Vegas has been in the news recently (the flashing of some very royal peaches in the city caused quite a stir), we thought we would select a couple of novels from the 2,100 currently on our database, that just ooze glitter, light and action, set in this, the grandest (and seediest) of North American desert cities. These are dazzling reads, and truly transport you the reader to the city, almost as if you were there yourself....

"see a location through an author's eyes" 

16 stories. Las Vegas provides the classic sophistication and darkness necessary for a deadly noir story. Stylish, sultry, brimming with ambition and greed, the characters who populate this literary Las Vegas are pushed to the extremes of human experience. From the neon glitter of the Strip to the treacherous views of Red Rock Canyon and Boulder City, from the desperation of Naked City to the racial tensions of the Westside, no other location offers so many different avenues leading to serious trouble.

Angela receives a letter from the immigration service revoking her visa. 30 days to obtain another visa or leave the country! Best friend Jenny Lopez suggests that she marries boyfriend Alex................

undefinedIt's Halloween in Las Vegas and things are crazier than normal for Connie the wedding planner. Vicky and Frank are in town for their nuptials but she soon realises that he has more on his mind than wedding bells. Vicky's teenage daughter Tina is less than impressed until she meets Connie's moody and enigmatic son Kyle. Frank's brother John is trying to hold everyone together but then something happens that turns the wedding party on their heads at 4am in Las Vegas!

You can support in so many ways -
become a member via Google Friends here, follow us onTwitter and Facebook; write reviews, buy books through our site and suggest titles that are evocative of location. Together we can build this site into a great resource for travellers. Thank you to all supporters.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Come to Kerala via fiction

Two very different books to transport the reader to Kerala....

The first is aimed at young adults, and is the story of Cassia who accompanies her Mum Lula to Kerala. Through her eyes , the reader experiences Cassia's take on India, and her zeal for engaging others in her love for dance, coupled with the anxieties of her age group, both real and imagined. This book is due out early September 2012 and is the Winner of  the 2011 Frances Lincoln Diverse Voices children's Book Award.

The second is the story of Rahel and Estha, twins growing up among the banana vats and peppercorns of their blind grandmother’s factory, and amid scenes of political turbulence in Kerala. Armed only with the innocence of youth, they fashion a childhood in the shade of the wreck that is their family: their lonely, lovely mother, their beloved Uncle Chacko (pickle baron, radical Marxist, bottom-pincher) and their sworn enemy, Baby Kochamma (ex-nun, incumbent grand-aunt). Winner of the Booker Prize.

Pop over to our Facebook page where we are randomly giving away top novels set in location to readers who give us a LIKE.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

The Scent of Lemon Spain...

We were really pleased to discover The Scent of Lemon Leaves by Clara Sánchez, a great novel set in a small part of Spain that many Europeans will have visited in their Summer holidays. It conjures up the real feel of a Spanish Urbanización and surrounding countryside as the story unfolds with the change of seasons.......
Click on the cover to find out more.

The story of young woman Sandra and older gentleman Julian. Their paths cross by the ocean on the Costa Blanca, near Javea (El Tosalet) and gradually they build a friendship that is based on examining the true origins of a community of elderly foreign nationals who live there. Sandra finds herself lodging with Karin and Fredrik, an elderly Norwegian couple who are not all they initially seem. Julian has been a witness to the couple's history in the concentration camps of the Second World War and the atrocities they were capable of. Beautifully translated by Julie Wark this is a book that lingers on beyond the final page.

Plenty of novels set in and evocative of Spain. Tell us which is your favourite in the Comments Box below.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Cambodia - In the Shadow of the Banyan - stunning!

"impossibly beautiful"

There is not much to add to that comment, this is a tremendous book set in Cambodia, it is absolutely in our Top 20 reads. If you want a bit about history of the revolution that took place in there 1975-1979 and a beautifully told story, part autobiographical, then this is an absolute must. Cambodia just lifts off the pages,the jungle, the heat, the oppression, the animal life, all observed throught the eyes of Raami, an 8 year old girl. Written in a style that is both lyrical and profound it is a book that lingers long after the book has been closed for the last time.

As it says on the cover it is in the mould of The Other Hand, Half of a Yellow Sun and The Kite Runner.

We will be starting a top 20 list of titles set around the world, this will certainly feature on our list. If you have a top title, share it with us and our readers in the
 Comments Box
This is one of the other books that will definitely appear on our top top reading list (set in Tokyo/Beijing)

Sunday, 12 August 2012

ROME and La Dolce Vita via fiction

Three fabulous novels that absosulutely capture the feel of the 1950s and 1960s in Rome and La Dolce Vita - Mario Lanza, Marcello Mastroianni, Sophia Loren, Audrey Hepburn...suddenly Rome has become the most glamourous place on earth. Enjoy these specially selected books and transport yourself back in time.


Rome of the 1950s, a terrific period of gorgeous frocks, glittering events and movie stars. Rome is all about narrow streets and alleyways, grand boulevards, fountains and piazzas full of life in the heat of the day, sultry at night, cafes and bars full of music and larger than life characters: .... Mario Lanza - this is the novel of Serafina, a poor girl who finds her way into the great singer's household and becomes an important member of the entourage.

And if you want even more glamour, this is another terrific read, evocative of both the era and the places, Rome and Hollywood. The story begins on the Italian coast in 1962. A young innkeeper watches in disbelief as a beautiful American girl gets out of a boat and climbs towards his hotel. She turns out to be an actress, on the run from the shenanigans going on down the coast in Rome at the filming of Cleopatra. A few days later international star Richard Burton, much the worse for wear, appears in the village too.
Half a century later, and half a world away in Hollywood, an elderly Italian man shows up on a movie studio's back lot - searching for the woman he last saw in his hotel fifty years before.

And in this final selection, real crime, behind the scenes of the glamourous lifestyle in this historical exposé. On 9 April 1953 an attractive twenty-one-year-old woman went missing from her family home in Rome. Thirty-six hours later her body was found washed up on a neglected beach at Torvaianica, forty kilometres from the Italian capital. Some said it was suicide; others, a tragic accident. But as the police tried to close the case, darker rumours bubbled to the surface. Could it be that the mysterious death of this quiet, conservative girl was linked to a drug-fuelled orgy, involving some of the richest and most powerful men in Italy?. 


Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Farang on Phuket

We feature a couple of novels set on the island of Phuket to whet your appetite - feel the sun blazing down, settle down in a hammock and drift into the world of island life in Thailand.

Catching the Sun tells the story of the Finn family and their move to the North of Phuket. The experience of the farang (it is farang in plural rather than farangs??), the Westerners who try to make the island paradise their home. The scenery is lush and evocative, but life and natural events take their toll. The beach is real, the story is fiction - and you can tell that Parsons has a real sense of what it means to dive into Thai island life, the bars are there, the fairy lights, the festivals, the food, the smells and the sun going down over the glassy ocean. Raise a Singha beer to good fiction and enjoy a rollercoaster ride!

Another story of what lurks beneath the island idyll. Welcome to Phuket. It s a paradise, for the rich, the beautiful and the heavily armed. When Jack Shepherd runs into international racketeer and fugitive Plato Karsarkis in a Phuket beach bar one night, little can he imagine the series of events the chance encounter sets in motion. Jack finds himself swiftly embroiled in a world of arms deals, extortion and blackmail.

Do drop by our site and if you know of a book that deserves recognition because it really brings a place to life (and we don't already feature it) let us know. We are also starting to take reviews of books - so imagine coming to the site to look for readers' Top Three Fiction set in Paris, or Top Three Crime set in Bangkok - this is a new and exciting way to get to know a place and find inspiration for new reading material!

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Passion (and food) in Paris

This book landed one day in our letterbox and we thought, hmmm, not another gastro tour through the great city. But this is truly insightful, intelligent and at times funny (though, ok, we got a bit lost on some of the references to American culture) and it is pepperered with luscious recipes. Here are some highlights from the book that caught our eye:

1. So, who knew (this is an aside gleaned from the book) that the Mona Lisa has a ganglion cyst on her thumb (look carefully at her portrait and you will see it!).

2. Check out the author's thoughts on French women who pick at their food (and what might that say about their sex lives?????)

3. A great tip for getting willowy souffles: "Everyone wants her souffles (oops, don't mind the incorrect use of the pronoun here, the proof editing has missed a few typos in our copy, and moving on swiftly....) to reach towering heights. Our friend Virginie has an interesting trick. When you butter the sides of the ramekin, use vertical strokes, going from bottom to top. It helps the souffle "crawl" up the sides as it bakes".

4. And to finish off, this is an example of why we found this book such a beautiful read: "I ordered a salad with smoked salmon. I know that doesn't sound like a particularly decadent repast,  but it is. That's because the French long ago mastered the art of serving salad so it doesn't feel like a punishment for something. There are always a few caramel-crusted potatoes on your salade niçoise, or a plump chicken liver  or two bedded down in a nest of lamb's lettuce. Or your salad might be topped with what is called a tartine - a large thin slice of country bread (Poilâne if you are lucky) topped with anything from melted goat cheese to shrimp and avocado.
My lunch arrived, a well-worn wooden planche heaped with pillowy green lettuce, folded in a creamy, cloudy, mustardy vinaigrette. Balanced on top were three half slice of pain Poilâne, spread with the merest millimeter of butter, topped with coral folds of salmon."

Click on the cover to find out more. Available to purchase through TripFiction and local bookstores

Share your favourite books that are especially evocative of Paris with us here in the Comments Box.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Into the zone of East Germany

In this selection of books we take you back to the era around the Fall of the Berlin Wall, second half to the 20th Century, to capture the feel of life behind the Wall and recommend some terrific reads to evoke the times.

A thriller set in the paranoid last weeks before the Fall of the Berlin Wall, depicting the special squads of armed officers, the torture chambers in the Stasi jail, the hundreds of thousands of informers who could do nothing to prevent the rebellion that saw the fall of the Berlin Wall....

"Porter's success lies in his ability to weave the fictitious lives of his characters into the real history of the period".

So, anyone who has had the experience of crossing into East Berlin before the Wall came down will probably get a huge amount from this book, just the small observations of life as it was, the border crossings, the intrigue and paranoia. And a good plot that re-evokes the period.

"Extraordinary tales from the underbelly of the former East Germany"

The two Germanies are reunited, and East Germany ceases to exist. Funder exposes life Behind the Wall as she trawls through documents and meets people who have stories to tell. The setting is the divided city of Berlin. Twenty-five-year-old Leonard Marnham is assigned to a British-American surveillance team.Though only a pawn in an international plot that is never fully revealed to him, Leonard uses his secret work to escape the bonds of his ordinary life - and to lose his unwanted innocence; and a horrific turn of events leads the reader gasping.

In our Comments Box do suggest other novels that evoke the period of division between the two Germanies - there are lots of fascinating reads out there, which ones would you recommend?