Tag Archives: Travel

Travel Books

I’m back, everyone! I have been painfully busy and haven’t finished a book until now (even though I haven’t *technically* finished this book), I think it’s about time I post SOMETHING. Hopefully November will be a bit less crazy for me (not likely) and I can get back to my usual reading and writing schedule. I’ve missed you all so very much and I’m happy to be back!

Okay, so here’s the thing. I can’t exactly write a traditional Olivia review on this book. Why? Because, as stated above, I haven’t finished. I’ve tried and tried and spent TWO WEEKS on this sucker, but I just can’t bring myself to finish it. So instead of going the traditional route, I’m going to write a bit about the book, where this was lacking, and what I look for in travel books in general.

I love travel books, I really do! (see ‘I Went to France for Bastille Day’) I saw this in the library, and without looking too hard at it, I just got it. I hardly ever get books on a whim like that, but I figured it couldn’t be too bad!

Wrong.

Let’s just talk about the title. It’s eye catching because no one who looks at it has any clue whatsoever what it means! I got a million questions about this book while reading, most of which I fended off with “It’s a travel book about a guy who uses a really old travel guide to go through Europe.” He uses an old book published in the 60’s called ‘Europe on 5 Dollars a Day.” This book is almost like a collection of short stories, one from each city he visited. He set out on this trip to get out of the monotony of his life, find love (okay…), and see all of the worlds most special European landmarks, purposefully looking for the touristy stuff.

At first, it was great. What a great concept, a quick-and-dirty of Europe’s most traveled cities! But the problem is that the narrator is completely unlikable. He is whiny, annoying, and a total armchair traveler. Part of the way through his trip he’s joined by his friend Lee, who is more of an adventurous spirit. Lee drags Doug into crazy situations that aren’t really that crazy, but at least makes the book a *wee* bit more interesting. I got to the chapter where Lee was supposed to leave, and there I couldn’t take it anymore. The thought of Lee leaving, Lee who brought all of the life to the book despite being more obnoxious than Doug, was enough to bring me to finally put the book down.

Heavens, y’all, don’t bother picking this one up. It brought a bit more realism to the overly-glorified picture of cities you get from guide books, but pushed it way too far with exaggerated cynicism.

What I’m looking for next, after I get a nice break with some beloved YA (I finished an ARC of Dualed on Sunday and now I’m reading the sequel to Princess Academy), is a book like this one in concept, but more likeable. A kind, softer, less obnoxious narrator who spends a little more time on the places themselves and less on the old German guys in laderhosen that were very entertaining to watch. (I mean, seriously.)

When I go to YALLFest in Charleston in a few weeks, I’m planning on doing something like this, actually. Except in the form of a vlog. Hopefully I’ll take video clips from my trip and different parts of Charleston and seal them all together with some nice voice over information. I don’t claim to be an expert, but most people have never been to this beautiful city, and I think it would be really cool to watch! Just tossing the idea around, please let me know in the comments if you have suggestions and stuff. I’m thinking about focusing on three main aspects: food, history, and architechture.

Have a lovely week, all! 🙂

Olivia

P.S. if you were worried about me with Hurricane Sandy, rest assured- I’m fine! Most of North Carolina is just getting blustery cold weather! I can’t say the same for most people up North, however. Millions are still without power, and the confirmed death count is now at 30. Please consider donating to the Red Cross to provide relief to the victims! Thank you. (donate here)

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Filed under Nonfiction

TCWT September!

The prompt this month is:

“How much does setting affect your novels and stories? What are some of your favorite ways to portray setting?”

Oh, LOVE this prompt! Setting is great, and very important to me. Sure, I write a lot of YA Contemp, set in average high schools. But I also love writing short stories set in places I’ve never been to. These stories will probably never be read by anyone other than me because, like I said, I’ve never actually been to these places. I haven’t seen most of the US, I’ve never been out of the country. And yet, thanks to books, I’m in love with Prague and Paris and London and New York. Daughter of Smoke and Bone put Prague on my bucket list. Up to date travel guides help me create realistic descriptions of places I’ve never been to.

My favorite ways to portray setting, hmm. I’m not too sure what this means, but I’ll do my best! I love setting with beautiful, harsh words that paint new worlds with broad strokes. I love a world that isn’t fuzzy, but clear and above all real. If a setting involves recalling not only the slow beauty of the Seine, but the trash littered along the gutters as well, I’m quite alright with that. It just makes it more real.

No matter how hard life gets, being a writer allows me to create a place all my own. When I’m busy, I don’t even have to write to do it. I just imagine the words I’d use.

I love writing as much as I love reading, and to be able to create worlds from nothing seems to me an incredible gift that I appreciate every day.

“Lock up your libraries if you like, but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.” ~Virginia Woolf

 

Want to follow our blog chain? Here are the participating parties, day by day:

September 5–http://musingsfromnevillesnavel.wordpress.com–Musings From Neville’s Navel

September 6–https://oliviasopinions.wordpress.com–Olivia’s Opinions

September 7–http://miriamjoywrites.wordpress.com–Miriam Joy Writes

September 8–http://kirstenwrites.wordpress.com–Kirsten Writes!

September 9–http://writingbeyondthemoon.blogspot.com–Beyond the Moon

September 10–http://crazyredpen.blogspot.com–Crazy Red Pen

September 11–http://ebonquill.wordpress.com–The Ebony Quill

September 12–http://realityisimaginary.blogspot.com–Reality Is Imaginary

September 13–http://insideliamsbrain.wordpress.com–This Page Intentionally Left Blank

September 14–http://incessantdroningofaboredwriter.wordpress.com–The Incessant Droning of a Bored Writer

September 15–http://allegradavis.wordpress.com–All I Need Is A Keyboard

September 16–http://teenscanwritetoo.wordpress.com–Teens Can Write, Too! (We will be announcing the topic for next month’s chain.)

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Filed under writing

Book Review- In Honor

This book was recommended to me by my lovely Twitter friend Linda! She also recommended Sweet Evil to me, so she’s proven herself as far as recommendations go! 🙂

The night of her Marine older brother Finn’s funeral, Honor receives the last letter he ever wrote to her. She sets out on a car trip across the county to fulfill his last wish, and at the last minute is joined by Finn’s old friend Rusty.

It sounds like your typical ‘trek-across-the-country/world-discovering-youself’ book, doesn’t it? Well, it’s not. It is much better. This book has something extra, I guess you could call it emotional depth. It takes a lot of swallowing raw feelings to leave home a few days after your brother’s funeral. Finn was and is everything to Honor, so accepting his death while driving across the country is very hard. Especially when Rusty is such a pain in the butt. The trip really unwinds Honor, which is really cool to read about. She used to be very tight; worried, annoyed at the slightest thing, and emotional. It is quite the healing journey for her, and by the end she realizes important things about herself and who her brother was. It is a totally sweet growth story with a teeny bit of romance on the side. Not much, though!

While I’m talking about the ending, let me just say that it was good! Bittersweet, but the last page or so was awesome. I was so proud of Honor and felt like she was a sister, or something, by the end of the book.

As far as negative goes on this book, sometimes I felt like it didn’t move fast enough for me. I have high standards, though, so most people would probably find it normal. Also, it was pretty short! That has advantages for some people, but I felt a little unsatisfied. That being said, Jessi Kirby did a great job of fitting all that character development in a short–ish book like this!

It isn’t one of my favorites, but totally worth the time it took me to read! A sweet story, especially for anyone interested in traveling or road trips. 🙂

Happy Reading, y’all!

Olivia

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Filed under Fiction, Modern Fiction

I went to France for Bastille Day!

I went to France for Bastille Day!

Seriously.

First, I went to breakfast at the patisserie on the corner near my hotel. I ate warm sugary French things that I don’t know the names for. They were delicious. After breakfast, I walked along the Seine river until I got the Eiffel Tower. I took the elevator all the way 1063 feet into the air and saw the city like a bird does. I ate lunch at the Cafe Constant, staring right at the Eiffel Tower through my meal. I rented a bike and rode to the Champs-Elysees (chahnz-eleezay), and window shopped for hours. I stood under the Arc de Triomphe and thought about Napoleon and his adorable shortness. And then, after dinner, I took a taxi to to Bastille, where I stood next to what is left of it, and remembered the things that had happened there 223 years ago.

OK, so that is a little bit of an exaggeration.

I didn’t really go to to Paris today. Well, not physically. Consider this a sort of advertisement for my latest book-obsession. As if I needed another. 😉

Travel guides.

Those who follow me on Twitter might remember me Tweeting a few days ago about reading Fodor’s 2012 guide to Paris. And I definitely am! Cover to cover, even the page numbers!

Do y’all remember my latest awards post, when I told you I’m travel-crazy? Well, it’s true. Except I’ve never even been out of the country. You may have also noticed I’m hungry for information. I actually LIKE school. I learn all I possibly can. And when I read Time Between Us, and I heard the main character taking comfort from reading travel guides, I decided to try it myself. So when I went to the library, I picked up Fodor’s guide to Paris 2012 and Rick Steve’s Rome, 2011. It was all I could do not to take them all.

Travel guides are full of extremely useful information, especially if you are actually traveling. But if you are like me, and you desperately wish you could be in France this instant, they are amazing. Reading a travel guide is like actually going to Paris, or Rome, or Barcelona. Fiction books do this too, but sometimes they don’t take me to the real world places I wish they could, like Italy. Travel guides do this. Almost everything you read in that top paragraph, I learned from this book. How to dress like a Parisian, where to eat, what kind of foods they have, where to go, and how to get there. All about the local culture. And everything else you could possibly be curious about when it comes to Paris.

I hope you don’t think it sounds pathetic to read a travel guide. It really isn’t. You might get questions from strangers, but if you want to travel to a foreign country and be back in time for dinner, this is the way to go.

I highly recommend Fodor’s as a travel guide. His books are full of colorful pictures, maps, and helpful tips. Rick Steve’s are in black and white, which is much less amazing.

I hope you pick up a travel guide (or two, or three, or….) and travel somewhere. I really do.

Happy Bastille Day!

Olivia

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Filed under Nonfiction