Posts Tagged ‘#goreads #readit2011 #blogjune’

Armchair Romance Makes the World Go Round

June 30, 2011

I started reading category romances in the early 80s. Mills and Boon, Harlequins, Loveswepts, Candlelight Ecstacy Supremes (yup – thanks for that line Dell!) and Silhouettes. I devoured them. I love reading romances with their optimism, affirmative relationships and their happily ever afters. But something that sneaked up on me, something that I was only vaguely aware of, was my enjoyment of reading category romances set around the world and, in particular, in different states of America.

Oronce Finé 1534 World Map - Cordiform Projection

The first time I recall choosing to read a romance because of  its setting was after I had read Janet Dailey’s Tidewater Lover (set in Virginia) and Mistletoe and Holly (set in Vermont). I then borrowed from my local library A Lyon’s Share (Illinois) and realised that this was no coincidence. After a little bit of research I discovered that Janet Dailey had decided to write a category romance for every state of America. How fabulous! I had hit the mother lode! I continued borrowing and buying Dailey’s books purely for this reason. I don’t think I read all 50 in her Americana series but it certainly put in the hook for reading romances set in specific states or countries.

I am a huge fan of Anne McAllister‘s Montana Cowboys, ooh! and her Boston Savas’s. I loved Cindy Gerard‘s Wyoming based Outlaws trilogy and oh! those hot hot hot Westmorelands by Brenda Jackson live all over America. They’re in Montana, Colorado and Texas just to list a few states.

Of course, settings in category romances go beyond America and are set all over the world with the reader getting a wonderful sense of place from many stand out authors. Sarah Mayberry has a wonderful balance of character and place in her books which are mostly set in South-Eastern Australia, Karina Bliss‘ sense of New Zealand and those wonderful English villages juxtoposed with exotic Spanish, Greek, Argentinian and Italian villas in Lynne Graham‘s angsty gems.

For the reality is, wherever in the world you are, whatever country you are traversing, whichever place you are discovering, it is inevitable, that somewhere and sometime, someone has had a romantic moment there. And as a romance reader and armchair traveller, I want to read those stories.

Vassiliki

Where the wild things are by Maurice Sendak

June 27, 2011

Where the wild things are was first published in 1963 and millions of copies have since been sold. It remains one of my (now adult)  sons’ favourite stories and pretty soon he’ll be reading it to his daughter too.

Poor Max, sent to his room for being a “Wild Thing”. Well, maybe don’t feel to sorry for him, because Max is able to travel in his boat all the way across the sea , through the forest and into the land of the Wild Things. There he become the King of all Wild Things, leading the wild rumpus until… is that dinner he smells? Well it’s a long trip, but Max travels all the way home, just in time for tea.

Close your eyes and travel with your imagination… I bet you can see Max and the Wild Things too.
Helen

From here to there by Jon Faine and Jack Faine

June 26, 2011

This book is a great story, but it’s not fiction. This trip happened. Father and son. Years and lists and lists of planning gave way to ultimately 6 short months to drive from Melbourne to London. How would they fare with limited equipment, no tent, not all the correct visas and permits, language and religious barriers and only their own company? I thought about how I would feel if my family decided to take this trip. How would I cope being alone, how much would I worry about them? Or, if I decided to go myself, would I have the trust in human nature that seems so inherent in Jon?
This father and son travelled over 39,000kms through Australia, East Timor, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, China, Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Iran, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Switzerland, France and England. If you are looking for an excuse not to plan such a trip, reading this book could provide you with one. If, however, you desperately want to do something like this, read the book, especially chapter 45 – “Mistakes we made, things to avoid” set a date and write your first list. Just don’t ask Jon how much it cost.
Helen

Two greedy Italians by Antonio Carluccio and Gennaro Contaldo

June 23, 2011

Planning a trip to Italy? If  history and food interests you, how will you decide where to go, where to omit? Can’t decide? Well, Antonio Carluccio and Gennaro Contaldo have done it all for you. These two friends are passionate about their country of birth, its’ history and the produce that has literally shaped the nation. The recipes are easy to follow, mouthwateringly tasty. Yum. My suggestion is this… find a map of Italy then read each section of this scrumptious book, north, south, inland or seaside. Plan your menu and chop, slice, dice, simmer, saute, braise or roast, for one or many, as you travel your way around the countryside. If you are lucky enough to visit Italy, use this book to identify regions and locally produced foods. If not, Two greedy Italians is a travel experience you can have at home again and again, deliciously.

Helen

Journey to the stone country by Alex Miller

June 19, 2011

This 2003 Miles Franklin Award winning novel is based on the true story of two of Alex Miler’s friends and draws both a powerful and magical picture of the Australian bush landscape. Starting briefly and unhappily in Melbourne, the story moves to the land of the Jangga people in the ranges of the Bowen Mountain in North Queensland. Central character Bo Rennie is an aboriginal who uses his native beliefs and landscape knowledge confidently in his mining work. When Annabelle Beck, who new Rennie as a child, returns to her family home in Townsville and meets Rennie again, she begins to question her understanding of  her upbringing, her European ancestors, their way of life and their secrets.

While this novel may be predominately about understanding and acceptance of race relations, it is the hauntingly beautiful descriptions of the countryside that drew me in. I could feel the landscape, the isolation, the wind. I could smell both the dust and the wattle blossom. I could taste the strong billy tea, the sausages on the fire. I could believe that this is a country where only those who understand it and work with it will survive, a country that is unmistakably Australian and must be seen, but  will never be owned.

Helen