Tag Archives: travel

Off the Map by Trish Doller

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Off the Map by Trish Doller

Doller, Trish. Off the Map. (Beck Sisters #3) St. Martin’s Press, 2023. 320 pp. ISBN 9781250809490 $16.99

****

Though not a Beck sister, Carla is Beck-adjacent, working with Anna at the pirate-themed bar in Florida that Anna skipped out of to sail the world in her dead fiance’s boat in Float Plan. Now Anna is getting married to Keane in Ireland, and Carla is going to be the maid of honor. Eamon, Keane’s brother, has been tasked with picking her up from the airport, but instead, invites her to meet him at the Confession Box, a tiny hole in the wall bar. She taps Eamon as her fake boyfriend the moment he walks in, kissing him to deflect unwanted advances from another barfly, and drinks turn into dinner, which leads into making love at his apartment.

A world traveler, Carla regales Eamon with stories of her single dad, a history teacher with summers off who took his little girl to nearly every state park in the country to stave off loneliness. Eamon has always longed to backpack but feels obligated to do what his family expects of him. With several days before the wedding, Carla talks Eamon into a little car camping and sightseeing. There’s a deadline to their fling, and the best man/maid of honor hookup is totally cliche, but this story works.

Like other novels in the series, this is highly character driven, and the journey motif is physical and geographical as well as internal. Carla’s dad is suffering from dementia, and she hasn’t been home to see him in six years–at his encouragement. She lives her life by a traveler’s code he ingrained in her from a young age, like “if it doesn’t fit in your backpack, you don’t need it,” and there is no such thing as being lost. After meeting Eamon, though, she begins to question her rolling stone gathers no moss philosophy and mourns that she met The One at a time in her life when she still doesn’t want to settle down. She also recognizes she might not want to be a seasonal bartender at retirement age. She breaks it off with Eamon… and goes home to see her dad, where his second wife and caretaker is all too happy to get a break for a few days. Details about caring for someone in mental decline are sensitive and authentic. Fans of the series may find this is little lighter and a little faster paced, but very satisfying nonetheless. Making a choice to forge a new path might be the plan, after all, and Carla may not be as off the map as she thinks.

I received a free advance reader’s review copy of #OffTheMap from #NetGalley.

Love and Other Flight Delays by Denise Williams

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Love and Other Flight Delays by Denise Williams

Williams, Denise. Love and Other Flight Delays. Berkley, 2023. 432 pp. ISBN 9780593441077 $18.99

***

This group of three interconnected stories set at an airport had good intentions, but I had trouble keeping the characters and their timelines straight. Chapters alternate male/female points of view.

In “The Love Connection,” risk assessor and romance novelist Bennett falls for the business manager of a pet grooming business near the gate he always flies into in Atlanta. She’s unsure she wants to have a long distance relationship and they have witty banter and a series of compelling dates on his layovers.

In “The Missed Connection,” a weather delay sends Ben’s best friend Gia, chemist, to the airport bar on New Year’s Eve where she asks a cute stranger to pose as her husband to gain herself a seat. By midnight, they’re dancing and kissing. Fast forward three months, and Felix turns out to be A.F. Ennings, the new colleague joining her work team–the one she dislikes through their correspondence. When they get sent as ambassadors together to tour multiple universities, the forced proximity brings some grudging respect and rekindles their mutual admiration.

In “The Sweetest Connection,” best friends Silas and Teagan both work at the airport; he in and she at an upscale chocolate boutique. They’ve been in love with one another for years but haven’t taken the leap. Silas hasn’t told Teagan yet that he’s broken up with his long term girlfriend. Teagan’s about to leave for a semester abroad in France, and has discovered a traveler’s pro/con list on whether to make feelings known and make the leap from friends to lovers. It never occurs to her it might be Silas’s–but she engages his help in trying to solve the mystery, convinced it must belong to a friend, co-worker, or regular traveler. This was my favorite story. Their story moves back and forth in time, and then crosses paths with the other stories.

Elements of the story reminded me of Love, Actually. I did have to pay close attention to how everyone was interconnected. The plotting and pacing are excellent, and if anything, I wanted longer stories about each set of characters, and could see peripheral characters getting their own spinoff.

I received a free advance reader’s review copy of #LoveAndOtherFlightDelays from #NetGalley.

Love & Saffron: A Novel of Food, Friendship, and Love by Kim Fay

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Love & Saffron: A Novel of Food, Friendship, and Love by Kim Fay

Fay, Kim. Love & Saffron: A Novel of Food, Friendship, and Love. Penguin Putnam, 2022. 192 pp. ISBN 9780593419335 $24.00

***

This short and sweet novel focuses on correspondence between a food columnist and a fan that evolves into a wonderful friendship. They exchange recipes, ingredients, and details about their lives. Each voice is distinctive and their letters give a glimpse into life in the Northwestern US in the 1960s and touches on politics, history, love, race, and food trends. A fast, richly detailed read.

I borrowed this one from my local public library.

One Night on the Island by Josie Silver

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One Night on the Island by Josie Silver

Silver, Josie. One Night on the Island. Ballantine, 2022. ISBN 978-1984820631 368 pp. $17

*****

No one does longing like Josie Silver. Missing a deceased finance? Check. In love with someone you saw in passing who your BFF later dates (and marries?) Check. Silver is all about the slow build, the angst, and the thank god–a satisfying resolution. One Night on the Island is another novel that you’ll read with a lump in your throat, wondering will they or won’t they.

Londoner and dating columnist Cleo Wilder has been searching for her flamingo (they mate for life) for a long time, and writing about the journey instead of writing a novel. Inspired by Emma Watson’s committee to herself, decides to mark her thirtieth birthday with a matrimonial style ceremony to commit to herself; her buddy/boss is on board, provided she documents it, and sends off to a remote Irish island. When it turns out the only rental is double-booked to Boston photographer Mack Sullivan who is struggling through a now-over-a-year-long separation (uninitiated by him) from his wife, sparks–of anger!–fly: both and are convinced they have claim to Otter Lodge and since the boat only comes once a week (except for medical emergencies), they are stuck with one another and need to form a truce, fast.

Part of getting to know and trust one another is a conversation introduced by Cleo: they can each share three truths. Never has the “just one bed” trope been used so effectively. Cleo takes the lumpy couch, and they connect across the single room with warmth, humor, and honesty. Mack finds a million images to capture as he explores his and his family’s roots to the island, while Cleo finds warm and welcoming friendships. The whole island speculates about the true nature of their relationship, and Star Wars references abound.

The island, it’s beauty, and it’s inhabitants slowly grow on both Cleo and Mack. They become friends, confidantes, are (of course) attracted, and just as Cleo is ready to do her ceremony, decides that a micro-affair with Mack after which they will release one another, will be healing–and without heartbreak–for both of them. They say goodbye, but are unable to forget one another…

I received an advance reader’s review copy of #OneNightOnTheIsland through #NetGalley

Up: A Mother and Daughter’s Peakbagging Adventure by Patricia Ellis Herr

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Up: A Mother and Daughter’s Peakbagging Adventure by Patricia Ellis Herr

Herr, Patricia Ellis. Up: A Mother and Daughter’s Peakbagging Adventure. Crown, 2012. ISBN 978-0307952073 256 pp. $

*****

When Herr’s 5-year-old daughter Alex fell in love with hiking, mother and daughter set a goal to hike all of New Hampshire’s 4,000 ft peaks. Herr thought it would take years, but it took considerably less, due to Alex’s boundless energy, enthusiasm and upbeat attitude.

Along the way, there are many conflicts, ranging from unpredictable weather to attitudes of hikers who don’t think kids belong on mountains to angry grouse on the trail. Mother and daughter persevere, and it’s an opportunity for a homeschooling mom to impart life lessons that instill a sense of pride in Alex.

This recounting of the adventure of conquering many mountains is highly engaging and inspiring. Herr is a wonderful storyteller, and chapters are well constructed, building upon one another. I couldn’t put it down, and figure if a 5-year old can climb mountains, I can walk an hour a day.

Naked in Dangerous Places: The Chronicles of a Hungry, Scared, Lost, Homesick, but Otherwise Perfectly Happy Traveler by Cash Peters

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Naked in Dangerous Places: The Chronicles of a Hungry, Scared, Lost, Homesick, but Otherwise Perfectly Happy Traveler by Cash Peters

Peters, Cash. Naked in Dangerous Places: The Chronicles of a Hungry, Scared, Lost, Homesick, but Otherwise Perfectly Happy Traveler. Broadway, 2009. ISBN 978-0307396358 368 pp. $

**

I got about a hundred pages into this real-life glimpse into a short-lived reality-TV travel series, then skimmed to the end; it was a lot of the same thing in different locations, with little insight or growth along the way: Non-nature boy is thrust into survivor like situations, with some degree of scripting. It was an interesting look at how reality TV shows are put together, at the very least.

The footnotes were the funniest and most interesting part of the book. At the end, Peters is asked to speak about his experience, and puts together a really good list of things he learned along the way; it’s too bad he didn’t go that route, for the narrative.

Braving Home: Dispatches from the Underwater Town, the Lava-Side Inn, and Other Extreme Locales by Jake Halpern

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Braving Home: Dispatches from the Underwater Town, the Lava-Side Inn, and Other Extreme Locales by Jake Halpern

Halpern, Jake. Braving Home: Dispatches from the Underwater Town, the Lava-Side Inn, and Other Extreme Locales. Mariner, 2004. ISBN 978-0618446629 256 pp. $

****

If home is where the heart is, then what ties to a person to a certain physical space, especially when that place has been destroyed by natural or man-made disaster? The author travels to some interesting places (a flood plain town swept away by water, a house on lava fields) to interview individuals making a stand to stay in a near-uninhabitable place they call home.

This is fascinating armchair travel that also raises issues of retribution and isolation as well as home.

Beyond the Sky and the Earth: A journey into Bhutan by Jamie Zeppa

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Beyond the Sky and the Earth: A journey into Bhutan by Jamie Zeppa

Zeppa, Jamie. Beyond the Sky and the Earth: A journey into Bhutan. Riverhead Books, 2000. ISBN 978-1573228152 320 pp. $16

****

I haven’t read a book that infiltrated my thoughts so much in a long time. Perhaps it is because this awesome memoir/journal reminded me so much of some of my overseas experiences. Beyond the Sky and the Earth: A journey into Bhutan by Jamie Zeppa is a wonderful glimpse into the author’s decision to leave Canada to teach in Bhutan in the late 1980s. She had never been out of the country before and never spent much time away from Robert, the man she plans to marry. Something inside of her is gnawing though, she knows she needs to have this experience to learn about herself and the world.

Despite protests from her grandfather and other family and friends, she heads to a remote village in Bhutan. She is honest about how awful things are at first with the rats, the homesickness, the fear of eating anything besides crackers with diseases like giardia attacking folks right and left. Not surprisingly, she learns to love the country and the people and her life there. Although she sometimes gets caught up in the beauty and simplicity of life there, she is realistic and tries not to romanticize her experiences. She knows there are problems there like everywhere else.

This book made me think about our materialistic lifestyle here in the Western World and reminded me of how I felt traveling in Vietnam. Here in the US I always feel like I need so many things. Life in Vietnam was so simple–we had so few things but managed to live full and exciting lives everyday. It’s easy to romanticize that lifestyle, but one of Jamie’s friend’s in Bhutan reminds her that many of the people in Bhutan would jump at the chance to have the kinds of things we have in the Western world if they could.

She also acknowledges the battles between the different ethnicities in Bhutan that have emigrated from the surrounding countries. Bhutan was working hard to maintain its cultural identity and when Jamie was there the government made strict laws governing the use of national dress and imposing national dress on groups who were not native to Bhutan. It would be like our government declaring that all people in the US have to wear the traditional dress of the early Pilgrims.

This book made me think about a lot of things, and I could go on and on here, but I’d rather have a dialogue than a monologue. So if this sounds interesting to you, read the book and then we can chat! 🙂