My Favourite Five Fiction Books to Take Travelling

…whilst pushing your travel boundaries, push your literary ones too!

If you’ve ever been travelling you probably know that one way to survive long flights, bus trips or delays is to carry a good book.

These are just a few of my favourites, after all I love books and often read one a day if I’m on a beach day!

1. The Motorcycle Diaries – Che Guevara

One of my favourite books, short, easy to read and essential reading before any trip to South America or Cuba.

My Goodreads review

2. The Martian Chronicles – Ray Bradbury


This will make you question how you judge a people and a place, so whilst pushing your travel boundaries, push your literary ones too.

My Goodreads review
Continue reading “My Favourite Five Fiction Books to Take Travelling”

Book Review: No Time For Goodbye, Linwood Barclay

Very cleverly written, is she going mad or is someone trying to make it seem she is losing her grip? If so, who?


Book Review: No Time For Goodbye, Linwood Barclay

Title: No Time For Goodbye

Author: Linwood Barclay

Copyright C Linwood Barclay 2007


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Blurb extract: …Why had her family disappeared? Twenty Five years later the mystery is no nearer to being solved…

Plot (fiction book):  

This story twists and turns, it’s an excellent page turner. At some points this book reminded me of the Hitchcock movie, Gaslight, a great film by the way. The questions about sanity, insanity and what they are, perception and reality. Very cleverly written, is she going mad or is someone trying to make it seem she is losing her grip? If so, who?

What happened? Is her memory reliable? This book takes the reader on a journey at just the right pace for the genre.

Characters: The main character is surprising sane at start of novel, a little unbelievably so to be honest. She should have more angst of teenage arguments, the guilt of a survivor, but is OK with it, at first.

If you accept that she must have had an amazing therapist, despite the trauma of her youth. Living with the nightmare scenario of not being able to make up with her family etc. then you’ll dive straight into a great story. 

She is what most people would call happy, but…and there’s the story.

As many teenagers do, she dated a ‘bad boy’ who makes an appearance later in the book. This character was a clever addition, I won’t give you details as I’d like you to read this book with all its surprises along the way.

Conclusion:  There’s a slightly predictable twist that I had worked out about half way through, but still a great holiday book.

In My Book Recommendations?: It’s a well thought out story, with a couple of unusual, if predictable, twists so yes I’d suggest reading it. It isn’t the best, but it’s worth the few hours it will take you to read it. The pace of the story will carry you through. I do like a book where you want to always read ‘just one more chapter’ and this is it.

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5 Reasons I Became A Backpacker, Yes Me, A 50 Year Old Woman!

I get asked this so often, so I thought I’d explain the 5 main reasons I became a backpacker as a 50 year old woman

5 Reasons I Became A Backpacker, Yes Me, A 50 Year Old Woman!I am constantly surprised by how many women, young and old, say to me ‘Aren’t you scared?’ or ‘Wow, I could never do that’ or even ‘You must be mad, it’s dangerous!’

What prompts friends to worry so much about me, am I going bungee jumping off the grand canyon or maybe walking barefoot across hot coals? No, just going on a holiday with a back pack instead of a suitcase. I know! Crazy right?

I get asked this so often, so I thought I’d explain the 5 main reasons I became a backpacker as a 50 year old woman:

1. I couldn’t afford to visit the places I wanted to see any other way

My independent nature has led me to always pay my way. I’ve never been answerable to anyone for my bills and as a single parent money was always tight. My redundancy payment meant I finally had the cash if I managed it right. My bucket list, now called my ‘f**k it’ list, included seeing Uluru in Australia’s Red Centre. I investigated tours OMG not an option! So I looked at flight prices. Hmm, not too bad. I’d used YHA in the UK, so investigated hostels in Australia…looking more accessible now…I planned and planned and planned and guess what I did it! Un- be – lee – va – bull!!

2. I wanted to challenge myself

Why now? I never had a gap year in my youth, they were something hairy university students did. It was the era when only the children of the rich could afford university let alone gap years. So I never got to travel very far afield then. Then came the mortgage, solo, so I had to stay employed or lose my home. This was before career breaks were even thought of let alone suggested. Next I had my daughter. Whilst I did take her camping and occasionally overseas, I had strict timetables of holidays dates from the 9-5 and nurseries etc. Travelling with a pack just didn’t seem possible. Excuses, excuses. I have often chosen the safe option, I did a 9 – 5 office job for years. I worked in a risk environment so often chose the path less bumpy. I don’t regret anything, you do what you have to do to get by, to put on food on the table etc. However life is short, you have to take some risks, I still battle my inner risk manager.

3. I want to be a positive female role model

So move on a few years. I’m married. I’m a grandmother. I’ve been made redundant from my career three times. I know! Who saw any of that coming! My daughter needed to see a woman can do anything if she puts her mind to it. She should get that inspiration from me. She’s a parent herself now. My grand children need to know that granny went to that place on the globe that’s all the way around the other side. They need to see someone standing on top of a volcano. If they don’t see me pushing myself what will motivate them to do the same?

4. I now have the luxury of time

I was determined to make a third redundancy a positive thing. I went through the stages of grief you go through when you lose something so fundamental in your life, it wasn’t easy. I’m a stubborn independent person who refuses to be browbeaten by people. I’m no longer restricted by only being able to take a maximum two week break from work. I’m no longer tied by that ridiculous rule in the UK of being fined if you take your kids out of school to travel (oh, don’t get me started!) I have time to plan. I can spend time checking out the flight prices, reading the travel guides, learning from bloggers who’ve been there, done that. Importantly if you are able to be flexible in your plans you can access much cheaper flights etc.

5. I wanted to be like my Dad

My Dad never went back packing, as far as I know. However on his death bed he told me “I’ve seen everything I want to see. I’ve done everything I want to do” Wow! Awesome, how cool was that. Now there’s a certain point in your life, that sneaks up on you, a voice that says “Blooming heck! I have to do this now before I’m too old to do it, or dead!” That may be when you lose a parent or a friend who’s younger than you. When you lose your job. It can happen when you notice one too many hairs in the wrong place or wrinkles that seem to have appeared in your sleep.When I lost my Dad I had so much to do, so much I wanted to see. I knew I had to start, and start soon. I did not want to get to the pearly gates, or what ever else we see at the end, and think ‘if only’. Anyway, whatever the reason I hope you reach that point sooner rather than later and get out of any rut you’re in. Whilst I miss my family like crazy when I travel Skype and FaceTime mean I can chat with the grand babies at the click of a button from anywhere with wifi (Thank you McDonalds)

So, what possessed me to become a backpacker as a 50 year old woman? Christie Adams with a backpackWell, the question for me was why wouldn’t I. I love a list, so I sat down and wrote a list of places and things I wanted to see. I’m ticking them off, one by one. I won’t get to them all, that’s the point, it’s an evolving list however I’ve only been backpacking a few years and already have seen more than I ever imagined.

Backpacking is such an obvious choice once you sit down and think about it. If you are in any doubt if you should try it, YES YES and YES you should. Bit scared? Just go for a weekend away, in a hostel with a day pack. Try it! You won’t regret it.

If you want to just go for it full on, my Australia trip may give you some pointers.

Good female travel blogs to check out for more inspiration:

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G Adventures


Lonely Planet Travel Guides


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Book Review -Time and Time again by Ben Elton

I had not read one of Ben Elton’s books, any regulars to my blog will now start to grasp a theme with my reading this year, I am trying new things, pushing boundaries ever so slightly. This book came highly recommended, so I dug in.

IMG_1831Book Review -Time and Time again by Ben Elton

c. Ben Elton 2014

For those unfamiliar with the author he was maybe more well known, in the UK at least, for his brilliant ‘Young Ones’ TV show and recently writing for the musical ‘We Will Rock You’ so he comes to me as a familiar name, if not for this format or genre.

I had not read one of Ben Elton’s books, any regulars to my blog will now start to grasp a theme with my reading this year, I am trying new things, pushing boundaries ever so slightly. This book came highly recommended, so I dug in. I admit to being curious the blurb drawing me in:

“If you had one chance to change history…Where would you go? What would you do? Who would you kill?…

A war that will begin with a single bullet. But can a single bullet truly corrupt an entire century?…”

A great hook, although as an old school grammar freak, I can’t stand sentences that start with BUT! OK, so I let that go, phew, breathe, calm, start reading. The tale as you would expect is well written, the characters spring into view immediately, “…could see her still, standing before the fire, wearing an ancient military greatcoat, which she used as a dressing gown, vast arse placed firmly and unashamedly between the flames and the students…” You will gather Ben, like me, loves a comma, and is skilled at characterisation.

The story, in my view, had a fundamental fault, surely someone educated at Oxford or similar and reaching the dizzy heights of professor would have watched Star Trek or Doctor Who and know that whatever happens you shouldn’t mess with history, never ever!

Once I let go of my reservations about that I did enjoy this book, I trust the author who educated me in WW 1 history. It made me wonder if he knew it all off the top of his head, or if he or his team spent months digging through the dusty shelves of a library somewhere to find his information (a romantic view of what is probably done via the web so forgive me that one)

I won’t spoil it by sharing the surprises, there are a few very well positioned and described, or the end which I also thought was well worked. I enjoyed that satisfaction of closing a book I’d enjoyed that ends well.

In conclusion, I wasn’t convinced anyone would really believe the plan was a good one, however it’s an engaging and thought provoking read, which could easily be transferred to the film screen.


Book Review – L A Requiem, Robert Crais

First of all, can someone please explain why they sell HUGE looks at airports as the special ‘flight size’ copies. Ri dic u lous!!

Book Cover Robert Crais Three Great NovelsBook Review

Title: L A Requiem

Author: Robert Crais

Copyright 1999 Robert Crais



First of all, can someone please explain why they sell HUGE books at airports as the special ‘flight size’ copies. Ri dic u lous!! I am fairly confident that most people who buy a book in the departure lounge will be getting on a plane and unless they are the pilot I’m guessing they will be subject to the minuscule weight allowances and more importantly bag size of the modern airline. If these so called ‘flight size’ books are to be stowed in the overhead lockers no wonder the airline crew need to warn us of the risks to health when retrieving them. This book alone would cause death or serious injury; I know this as I have tried to read it in bed and have no chance of holding aloft without some form of mechanic assistance. Surprisingly no such aids are to hand in my boudoir, or on the beach, my two favourite places to read. Anyway as they say I digress.

Blurb: Extract: A reckoning has come to the City of Angels…Karen Garcia is missing and her father doesn’t trust the cops – he wants someone he knows on the case. So he enlists the help of Elvis Cole and Joe Pike. It seems that Karen is the latest victim of a distinctive serial killer and the police are determined to pin her death, and four others, on the witness who found her body. Cole doesn’t believe the man has the guts to murder, and with his partner and the police at each other’s throats, it’s down to him to find the connection that will reveal the killer…

Plot: The review is of one novel in this book of three, I’m breaking them up with other reads so will review the others in the future. I did not take to LA Requiem instantly. I must confess to not having read the work by this author before although Mr Crais has written for productions I loved especially TV such as Hill Street Blues alongside his numerous novels.

Once I got used to the very stylised writing methods, I really enjoyed the story. I think Mr Crais is using the style of the 40’s and 50’s film noir or detectives such as Dick Tracy etc. If I’d known that at the outset I would have embraced it, maybe the blurb could hint at this style. It took me a while to realise it was a style, I really hope that’s the idea and not an attempt at a truly dark realist one. Blimey, bit deep, sorry but it is a style which may not suit everyone. I did get past it and actually thought the centre of the novel moved into a realist mode, other than the afore mentioned humorous Elvis references. The ending fell back into what some may call cliche but it did tie in all the loose ends and leave it open as per modern tradition for a sequel.

Characters: This story is one of a number around a key character Elvis Cole, cue numerous predictable mentions of Elvis through the book. I guess in real life this would happen but I found it a bit unnecessary here.

Sometimes when I read best selling authors who produce a mass number of pieces I do wonder if they edit them or have a team to do it for them. This may be a bit discourteous but sometimes small things get in to print which I find difficult to believe that a great novelist would miss e.g. I was a little confused at a couple in the book, the husband described as short, then his wife as tall, as tall as her husband? One sentence had the word burn repeated so often it became distracting.

There is an extract in the book spoken from a distressed child’s point of view, it is excellent. Engaged, enthralling and brutal. It is key to the story so I won’t quote it merely advise that this story does have really good writing held within the maybe too frequently predictable. 

Conclusion:  Anyone who writes this type of novel, and I know a few aspirational writers who do, please get your work out there. Mr Baldacci and Mr Crais are proof that some of what we are taught by so called experts in their field about writing is not always sought by publishers. Mr Baldacci & Mr Crais  write books we like to read, as do millions worldwide. They don’t conform to some rules our lecturers standby.

Recommended: Yes, this is a typical ‘holiday’ detective novel, good old beach read, nothing new but far from the worse. If you want a page turner which doesn’t require too much brain power. That sounds harsh however I hope you will see I do like the book, it’s just not one of my best books, besides which it’s too blooming heavy!

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Book Review – Robert Crais, Demolition Angel


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David Baldacci Novels


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Holiday feet and holiday books

I love feet and books, I know, odd combination but go with it for me.

I don’t think anything sums up holidays, travel or relaxation as much as bare feet or the second best option flip flops. They are also known as thongs to some, although for me that is what you wear under your trousers! Apologies for the scratched toe, the perils of bare feet and furniture whilst running around packing!

If you visit an airport you will be amazed by the number and variety of differing designs of flip flop from your basic cheap ‘grab off the shelf near the beach’ kind to the blinged up version of those with extra cash to splash; even sin of sin ones with a heel.

You can even invest now in fit flops which give your butt a little extra firmness, if you actually walk in them rather than sit on a sun lounger.

The second item in my article, books! Of course, gotta love ’em. I read just two this holiday due to other calls on my time, sea, sand, family etc. Hopefully you’ll forgive me.

1. The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton.

If you can get past the first chapter, sorry I wasn’t hooked straight away, this book won’t disappoint. It is an unusual plot and concept which I think the author worked hard at creating so they deserve your time. I won’t spoil it by revealing the story, the blurb says enough. I think it missed an opportunity at the end to explain more about the one the book is titled for, it seemed a little rushed at the end as if they were unsure how to explain it, but apart from that great holiday read, worth a look.

2. The Eleventh Commandment by Jeffrey Archer

Morally I feel I shouldn’t support his writing, but he does write a great story with good characterisations. This book will be forever remembered as the one that, with much hilarity, partially blew away on a windy day at the beach. Luckily after desperate running around only a few pages succeeded in their bid for freedom. This is a great holiday read, if you like a thriller or conspiracy, which I do. It was a bit predictable at the conclusion although there are a few surprises throughout which i won’t spoil for you. No regrets on spending precious holiday time reading and enjoying this one. He is a best seller for a reason.

So in conclusion of one of my first ‘review’ posts, please give me feedback on what I did right, and wrong, I’m hoping to do this more often. Thanks as ever…and don’t forget when you get to an airport and browse through the bookstores look at those feet and marvel at the variety, and release your own to that freedom which is a flip flop.