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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...