Friday, 8 August 2014

Travel by Armchair (2) Bloggers Pick Their Favourite Summer Destinations in Fiction

Welcome to part two of my little Travel by Armchair summer feature! Have you ever read a book so rich with description for a country you’ve never visited before that you feel like you’re experiencing it yourself? Or have you read a beach read that you put down feeling rested and relaxed as if you’ve had a week in the sun? I think of these books as ‘Armchair Traveling’ and I've invited some more of my book blogging friends to turn into fictional travel agents today sharing their favourite places to travel to via reading.

Leanna from Daisy Chain Book Reviews picks Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland

Travel by Armchair –what a great idea for a blog feature, right? Here I am typing this on an early-June-but-still-chilly-night in Ireland (I have a very slight tan, but I’m also wrapped up in a blanket, you get the picture!) and I’m daydreaming of clear blue seas and perfect sunsets and champagne boat trips and biking adventures in Nantucket. I’ve travelled all over Europe, but I’ve never been to the US. I want to do a US road trip some day soon, and I would also love to spend a summer in Nantucket; it seems like a charming kind of place. I’ve gone so far as to research Nantucket Beach Houses for this dream trip. Some of them look amazing –think Emily’s Hamptons beach house in Revenge but even fancier. As lovely as they are, these places are mega-pricey too! But, hey, we’re travelling by armchair, so we can go wherever the mood takes us, right?

Right now, we’re going to Nantucket. Nantucket Blue is a sun-dappled coming-of-age story by Leila Howland featuring high achiever Cricket Thompson who spends a summer working on the island. Nantucket Blue is the kind of book that will remind you of your own teenage summers (even if you didn’t spend them in Nantucket!) it’s got friendship drama galore, unrequited crushes, and lots of kissing. It’s also got a cute boy and champagne boat rides under the stars. Yeah, that could totally be my summer. Cricket is an independent kind of spirit and she likes to bike around the island discovering all its nooks and crannies as she goes. Leila Howland adds a lot of detail to her story, and at times I really felt like I was summering on the island along with Cricket while I was reading this book. I wish. If I was, I’d make a pit-stop on the way to the beach for a wholesome sandwich at Something Natural –Cricket’s go-to place for a yummy lunch!

Post-beach I’d return to my fancy beach house and read and write and enjoy the sun some more, until my hot date (or maybe my actual real-life boyfriend) stopped by with a bottle of champagne and took me on a boat ride so we could watch a perfect Nantucket sunset. Total Bliss.

Amanda from One More Page picks Secrets by Freya North

From it's lovey summery cover to the wonderfully romantic story inside, my recommendation for escaping this summer is Secrets by Freya North. I've probably gone against the grain a little here as Secrets is set in the real seaside town of Saltburn in the north east of England so not exactly a exotic tropical paradise but it is one of my favourite places in the world and here's why you should visit!

Saltburn is a Victorian seaside town. It has a fabulous golden sandy beach just perfect for sandcastle building. It can be gothic and stormy or startlingly sunny and bright (usually all in one day!) You might like to enjoy an ice cream on the pier or a wander through the beautiful Valley Gardens. For the more adventurous, Saltburn is a bit of a surfing hotspot and hosted a stage of the UK Pro Surfing Championships last year. After all that excitement there are heaps of lovely pubs and restaurants to relax and watch the amazing summer sunsets from.

As Tess finds out in Secrets when she runs away to Saltburn from London, the town has a lot to offer, not least the fabulous Northern hospitality ... and did I mention the surfers ;-)

Jasprit from The Reader's Den picks Just One Day by Gayle Forman

I’ve always adored books which feature some sort of travel, whether it be road trips or travelling to cities unknown. One of my favourite books which does this is Just One Day by Gayle Forman. The amount of times that I’ve travelled to St. Pancras station in London, and I’ve looked at the big board with all the amazing places in Europe I could be in within a few hours such as Paris, Frankfurt, Amsterdam and Basel, the choices are endless and so exciting. Just One Day just leaves me with this wistful longing to be spontaneous like Allyson and end up in a totally different country.

By catching the Eurostar you can end up in France, Belgium, Germany, Holland or even Switzerland in just a few hours. But imagine doing this the way Allyson with a complete handsome stranger for just one day. Having the feeling of fear and excitement in the pit of your stomach. Unfortunately I haven’t visited Paris yet, but I have friends who have and they’ve described it to be just as gorgeous as Forman’s descriptions depict it to be. Imagine arriving and seeing people sitting outside these cute little café’s drinking their coffee and eating crepes and macarons (I still need to try one of these). Or taking a boat ride along the Seine and taking in the lush scenery around you. Meeting people also making this same trip as you and learning about what brought them here. Or if you want to be more on the go then just grab a velib (bicycle) for up to half an hour and just ride around Paris or wherever it takes you. Maybe it will take you to The Louvre, which is situated near the right bank of the Seine; it’s meant to be one of the world’s largest museums.

Photo Credit: thanks Ravi

What I liked about Forman’s trip around Paris with Willem and Allyson was that she didn’t just touch upon monuments and places everyone already knew about such as the Eiffel Tower, yes that would be a brilliant place to check out, but I love how she touched upon all the small things that you could do and discover in Paris. If ever feeling a bit spontaneous like Allyson and Willem, you could also go to a metro/tram line and randomly pick a stop to go to, who knows where you could end up. And if after Paris you want more, you could always take a trip to Utrecht in Holland and spend time around the canals with houseboats or tiny little alley streets. All I know is that from reading this book Forman has definitely made me want to check out both of these beautiful cities.

Ray from Ray Reads Books picks Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Aft’noon folks! I’ve been kindly asked to whisk you off somewhere wonderful today so we’re going to San Fran! For those people who don’t live on the West Coast of the US, and certainly for me, San Francisco kind of feels like a far-off mystical place where all the streets just tilt down and down until you end up in the ocean and *whoosh* there’s half a world of nothing.

I’ve been intrigued about San Fran since I saw the Princess Diaries movie (I know I’m a heretic for not having read the books), but it’s really Lola and the Boy Next Door by the amazing Stephanie Perkins that sparks my desire to go. There are so many well-known places that I would want to see but also some not-so-well-known places from Lola that would make me flail with ALL THE FEELS.

This new cover for Lola shows one of the most obvious landmarks- The Golden Gate Bridge, while I’m sure it’s breath-takingly huge when you’re stood next to it (I ought to ask my parents since they went back in April without their darling offspring *sniffs*), it doesn’t feature all that much in Lola. There’s also the infamous Alcatraz Island with its prison that no one ever escaped from, which is spooky as hell I imagine, with its abandoned cells full of sadness, anger and isolation. One of these days I will have to read up on what life was like there when it was still a prison. *shudders*

But the place I would want to see the most in San Francisco is the place where some of the best scenes happen in Lola. Some of the cutest and sweetest interactions between her and Cricket fricking Bell *swoons* are across the void between their two bedroom windows in their ice-cream coloured Victorian houses in the Castro District. It’s such a vivid image of Lola’s mint house next to the lavender of the Bell house and I think Cricket wins hands-down the contest of best first appearance in a book- sat on a window-sill with his ridiculously long legs dangling, in his supremely sexy trousers and his mad professor hair and blue eyes that stop your heart dead. I mean, honestly. Who didn’t fall in love right then and there?

*Ahem* what was I talking about? Ah yes San Francisco. A vibrant, wacky city, with streets built on angles you’d more often see on a rooftop than on the ground; with a whole smorgasbord of people scurrying about living their lives. Perhaps, just maybe somewhere in all that, there is a Lola falling for her Cricket next door… Thank you for joining me on this whirlwind trip to San Fran and if you’ve not read Lola and the Boy Next Door, then I *seriously* recommend you get on that – NOW!

Whether you're going to the beach and looking for a good book to pass the hours with or are looking for a story that will sweep you away from daily life I hope these picks provide some escapism this summer! 

In case you missed it make sure you check out part 1 of this feature here for more blogger recommendations.
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