The Lonely Hearts Travel Club – Destination Thailand by Katy Colins

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What’s it all about:

What if you had a second chance… to find yourself?

Instead of slipping on her something borrowed and tripping up the aisle to wedded bliss, Georgia spends her big day crying into a warm Sex-on-the-Beach, wondering where it all went wrong.

Forced to make a bucket list of her new life goals by best friend Marie, it’s not long before travel-virgin Georgia’s packing her bags for a long-haul adventure to Thailand.

Yet, Georgia’s big adventure doesn’t seem to be going to plan. From strange sights, smells and falling for every rookie traveller scam in the book Georgia has never felt more alone.

But the good thing about falling apart is that you can put yourself back together any way you please. And new Georgia might just be someone she can finally be proud of…

Review

Book provided by Carina UK in exchange for an honest review

Katy’s debut novel caught my eye on Twitter when her cover was revealed (and what a beautiful cover, no? <3) and after reading the blurb, I just had to read it. Like, now. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a huge sucker for a list – I genuinely struggle to function without one – but when that list is a bucket list, a TRAVEL bucket list, I can barely contain myself.

Destination Thailand follows jilted bride, Georgia, as she struggles with the aftermath of her fiance dumping her weeks before their wedding for another woman. Her best friend, Marie, takes her away on a holiday to Turkey so that on the day she was supposed to say her I do’s she isn’t hiding away from the world saying I can’t. It’s on this holiday that Marie convinces Georgia to create a bucket list, something that will help her get back to her old self again. To travel and do the old cliche and ‘find herself’.

After some serious deliberating, Georgia finally books a 6 week backpacking tour of Thailand as part of a group and this is where the fun begins.

Now I just want to say that Thailand is high up on my travel bucket list so to read a book written by someone that has genuinely travelled to the places she is writing about was a huge plus for me. Especially Bangkok, a place that both fascinates and terrifies me at the same time! I may or may not have stalked Katy’s blog to drool at her photographs too. Just saying.

Poor Georgia has some amusing and yet truly horrifying experiences when she arrives in Bangkok to meet her fellow backpackers and it doesn’t get much better for her until she decides enough is enough and heads off to do her own thing. I loved the fact that Georgia finally plucked up the courage to go it alone and for me, that’s when I really began to get lost in a dreamy haze, googling pictures of Koh Lanta and imagining myself in Georgia’s shoes. She meets some very interesting characters along the way but the guys in Koh Lanta were my favourite, especially Ben. The only downside for me was that it seemed to end a bit quickly.

If you’re looking for an escape from the cold, winter nights, the drudgery of day to day life and love to read about exotic locations then Katy Colin’s debut novel is the book for you.

4 STARS

Pre order on Amazon UK / US

Follow Katy on Twitter

Read Katy’s blog

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From Italy With Love by Jules Wake – My Review

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What’s it all about

‘To my niece I leave the Ferrari GT250… On the proviso that she takes it across Europe to Maranello within the next three weeks. Only on successful completion of the journey to a prescribed route, will the car be hers…’

Home-loving Laurie thinks she’s happy – she has a safe, reliable boyfriend and working in her local library is what she thought she always wanted. That is until she inherits a vintage Ferrari from her eccentric Uncle Miles and the conditions of the inheritance are far from simple. To keep the car Laurie will have to drive across Europe with the gorgeous but unreliable Cameron Matthews as her guide… and Cam’s motives for helping are not all that altruistic.

Cam isn’t particularly thrilled about escorting his late pal Miles’ dull mouse of a niece on this wild goose chase but all he has to do is get Laurie safely to Italy and he’s sure the Ferrari is his.

But Uncle Miles had a few tricks up his sleeve and the route he’s planned takes Cam and Laurie on a road trip they’ll never forget. From sampling the delights of the Loire Valley to the breathtaking beauty of Lake Garda, this is one journey that has more twists and turns than either of them could ever have imagined…

Review

Book provided by Harper Impulse via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

This is the first book I have read by Jules and it certainly won’t be my last.

The book begins with a funeral. Not the best way to start a chick lit book I hear you say, but really, it’s not depressing in the slightest. In fact, this is where we are introduced to the colourful Uncle Miles, the instigator of the journey that Laurie, our leading lady, must take if she wants to inherit one of his most prized cars when he was alive.

Laurie, Laurie, Laurie. Sweet, quiet, unconfrontational, Laurie. I did love her but I have to say, in parts I found myself wanting to grab her and shake her for putting up with her ridiculous boyfriend/fiance, Robert. From the get-go, we are given an insight into their relationship and how they work. Laurie works in a library and is happily bobbing along through life with no excitement, not trying to achieve any goals and being held back by Robert. Robert is a weasel. A completely artificial, mean spirited and quite frankly, stingy, man. Jules has done a wonderful job of creating a character that you want to scream at. When he finds out just how wealthy Uncle Miles was, suddenly he wants to get married and not only that, he wants  it to be a rushed job down at the registry office! Nuh-uh.

At the funeral, we are introduced to Cam, a close friend of Uncle Miles and fellow car enthusiast. Prior to the reading of the will, Cam is confident he will get the Ferrari that Miles promised him. Little does he know, lovably eccentric Uncle Miles had other plans. When Laurie and Cam attend the reading of the will, they discover that Laurie has in fact been left the Ferrari BUT only if she takes the car on a road trip through France and into Italy, with Cam alongside her. Should she not complete this task, the car will be sold. Suddenly determined to inject some adventure into her life, Laurie sets off on the adventure of her life with Cam in the driving seat and Robert left at home sulking.

When the pair hit the road, Cam’s sole focus is to get Laurie to sell the car. He was promised that car by sneaky Uncle Miles and attempts to pull many tricks on Laurie to convince her that the car is either falling to bits, is unreliable, too expensive to run or is making knocks and noises when it shouldn’t; but Laurie isn’t phased one bit. Cam’s tricks continue throughout the journey until one day after some dodgy seafood, Laurie has to take control and nurse him back to health. She manages to navigate them into Paris and gets Cam help. For me, I think this was the turning point in their relationship. Cam could always see that she wasn’t a high maintenance gold-digger, the type of highly groomed women he is used to being around and doesn’t particularly like, and the pair get closer and begin open up to each other. We find out why Laurie has been so nervous to go on the journey, we find out about her family and why she never talks about her mother and we finally see Laurie come into her own, morphing from a meek, mild-mannered caterpillar into a gloriously bright butterfly.

I adored this story from cover to cover. The fact that we get to travel through France and to Italy was the main reason I was drawn to the story. I’m a sucker for a book that takes me on an adventure through beautiful countries and if a book can pull me and keep me hooked with a storyline about characters that have some clear flaws but manage to see the light, and a romance that develops along the way, then I am one happy little camper. I felt like I took this journey with them thanks to the descriptions that Jules gives us and could imagine myself wandering through Paris or getting lost in a small French town and grabbing a coffee in a quaint streetside cafe.

From Italy With Love had me grinning from ear to ear throughout most of it, especially as the road trip progresses and there are laugh out loud moments so I would urge anyone with a love of romance and travel to grab this book and read it immediately. That’s a direct order 😉

As you’ve probably all guessed by now, this is a DEFINITE high marker from me and I look forward to more great offerings from this author.

4 STARS

Buy it now from Amazon UK / US

Follow Jules on Twitter

Until next time you lovely lot *mwah*

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A Constant State of Wanderlust

Wanderlust: – a strong desire for or impulse to wander or travel and explore the world.

Since my post a couple of weeks ago about travel and how it inspires me, I’ve been thinking about my bucketlist. I’ve had a bucketlist for a few years now and have actually managed to tick a few things off. Things like publish a book, go to the ballet, get married, but there are so many things I have yet to tick off and most of them are travel related.

When I was younger, my mum told me about something my great granddad had once said to her, which was ‘travel is the best form of education’, and he was right. My geography skills are lacking, which is quite embarrassing for someone that’s about to turn 29, but I’m quite open about it. It doesn’t matter how many times people correct me, I always seem to think that Denmark is in Sweden, so for me, it probably would be the best form of education! I am happily settled, don’t get me wrong, but I can’t help but feel that there is so much more to life than the daily grind of eat, sleep, work, repeat.

It terrifies me to think that one day I’ll wake up, old, frail and unable to go on adventures anymore and just WISH I’d done all the things I’d wanted to do when I was able. Grim, right? Sorry, this was meant to be a happy post haha but before I think about really settling down, having children and all the responsibilities that come with them, I want to travel. I want to travel more than anything.

So my dear readers, I’ve decided to take the travel elements (and travel related elements) from my bucket list and share with you what I am now calling My Pretty Adventurous Wanderlust List (including the things I’ve ticked off).

  1. Visit all 50 States in America
  2. Experience the Mardi Gras in New Orleans
  3. Do the Pacific Coast Highway/Route 1 (This will be happening next year!)
  4. Rollerblade down Venice Beach
  5. Visit Umbrella Street in Portugal
  6. Go to Paris
  7. Go to Bora Bora
  8. Visit the sea pigs in the Bahamas
  9. Take a cruise through the Panama Canal
  10. Go to Salzburg in winter
  11. Experience Winter in Venice in Las Vegas
  12. Visit the National Library in Vienna
  13. Go to Miami
  14. Visit the mineral baths in Saturnia, Tuscany
  15. See the Cherry Blossom trees in Japan
  16. Visit Amsterdam
  17. See the lavender and sunflower fields in Provence, France
  18. Have a picnic on a beach in the Hamptons
  19. Visit Cinque Terre
  20. See the Leaning Tower of Pisa
  21. Go to the glow worm caves in New Zealand
  22. Go to Tuscany and do wine tasting
  23. Go to Rome
  24. Visit Laguna Salada de Torrevieja in Spain to see the pink sea
  25. See the Neuscwanstein Castle in Munich that the Disney Castle is based on
  26. Go to Singapore
  27. See the Wisteria Flower Tunnel in Japan
  28. See the Northern Lights
  29. Visit Pompeii
  30. See the Niagara Falls
  31. Go to the Maldives
  32. Stay in the Atlantis in the Bahamas
  33. Go to Dubai
  34. Stay on a ranch in Texas
  35. Visit Santorini
  36. See the Grand Canyon
  37. Go to Alaska
  38. Go to Toronto
  39. Visit New England in Autumn
  40. Go to Hawaii
  41. See a Buddhist Temple in Thailand
  42. Go to Lapland
  43. Go to Hong Kong
  44. Eat waffles in Belgium
  45. Go to New York
  46. See a Broadway show
  47. See the New Year in in Edinburgh
  48. Go to the Isle of Wight Festival
  49. Go Glamping
  50. See the colourful beach huts in Brighton
  51. Go to Choccywoccydoodah in Brighton
  52. Go to Cornwall
  53. Do the Florida Keys
  54. See 7 wonders of the world (I thought I’d mix n match modern and ancient here)
  55. See the ruins in Athens
  56. Stay in an igloo pod in Iceland
  57. See Bubblegum Alley in San Luis Obispo, California
  58. Visit Auschwitz, Poland
  59. Climb Sydney Harbour Bridge, Australia
  60. Visit Vatican City
  61. Visit Yosemite National Park
  62. Go to Lake Louise, Canada
  63. Go dog sledding in Alaska

PicMonkey Collage

I’m certain there are things I’ve missed here and I’m sure my list will continue to grow as quickly as I cross things off. What do you think, have I missed anything you think I should see? Let me know in the comments 🙂

Sigh. I’m off to Pinterest now to plan more travel 😉

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Travel and Writing

As I prepare for my new release, I’ve been thinking a lot about what really inspires me as an author and have realised, shockingly late in the day, that as well as real life and the people around me, I’m heavily influenced by travel. The places I’ve been or the places I’d love to see help me focus my mind and gather my thoughts. The research side of things also helps take my mind off of the pressures of deadlines and gives my brain a welcome nudge too.

Take for example San Francisco. My debut novel, The Story of Us is set in the magical city by the bay, a place I have been lucky enough to visit twice already and will be returning to next year. I can’t get enough of SF and all someone has to do is mention those fatal words, ‘have you been?’ and my mouth just won’t stop. I could talk for hours about the haunting feel of Alcatraz as you pull up to the dock, the shivers you get down your spine as you walk towards the imposing prison, the fact hell will freeze over before you’ll get me there on a night tour! Or the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park where you really feel like you’re in Japan, surrounded by many sculptures, bridges, ponds and plants it’s easy to lose yourself while sipping a speciality tea or pink lemonade in my case. Haight Ashbury where you’re thrown back into the 60s or Pier 39 where the sea lions sit basking as tourists look on in awe (though they are quite noisy and whiffy, I won’t lie). So when it came to settings for Lexi to escape to in The Story of Us, there really was nowhere else that I would have wanted to escape to myself when writing.

My second novel follows Lexi around London and Yorkshire, which for me was again, like travelling. I live in Yorkshire but love London, so to be able to include Oxford Street and the wonders of London in my book was brilliant.

Learn To Love Again has a slightly different tone to it but still, inspiration for my setting came from a spur of the moment visit to see my Uncle up in Saltburn-by-the-Sea. It’s a wonderful coastal town that became the location of Barton-by-the-Sea, the small village that Lillie grew up in and the setting for my latest novella.

Dear Darling, while set in London, also visits Miami. Miami has been on my bucket list for years and I would love to go. Researching the hotels, the beaches, the attractions, was so thrilling and exciting that I almost felt like I was planning my own holiday. Nothing would have pleased me more than to jet off and do some thorough research but alas, Google had to come to my rescue instead.

It’s a funny old thing, inspiration. It comes when you’re least expecting it and shoots a bolt of excitement through your veins when you start piecing things together, raring to write and explore the wonderful world that has entered your brain.

There are still many places that I will be bringing to you soon, Tuscany is high on my list of locations because after spending a part of my honeymoon in Florence and exploring Tuscany, I cannot wait to share it with you!

Writing this post has been quite an eye opener for me really. I’ve always known that food has played a big part of my inspiration (mainly because I just love to eat) but now when I’m asked in an interview what inspires me, I feel like I can give a better response. Travel. Travel is what inspires me. Travel is what makes me want to mould and shape new characters and tell you all their tales; it’s what excites me when I visit a new place, and travel is what makes me want to write away furiously before the moment passes ha

I want to share with you a few of my favourite photographs of the places I’ve been and the things I’ve seen. Some are of places that I have written about, some you will read about very soon, but until then, enjoy…….

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Siena, Tuscany

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Siena, Tuscany

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Looking out towards San Gimignano, Tuscany

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The infamous Pier 39 seal lions – San Francisco

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Lombard Street – San Francisco

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The infamous Bush Man – San Francisco

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IHOP, the place where dreams come true…..well, if you dream about pancakes that is.

The famous Cliff Lifts leading to the sea – Saltburn-by-the-Sea

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Saltburn-by-the-Sea Pier

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