So…I realize it’s not precisely Friday. But I didn’t have any wifi access yesterday, so I apologize for posting so late. The fabulous and fascinating Shelley Wilson offered to do a guest post while I’m touring India, and she even combined that with Rosie Amber’s FridayFive Challenge to create the FridayFive Mystery Tour. Bon voyage!
Cruising the Book Shelves – A Guest Post
by Shelley Wilson
When I heard that Barb was heading back to India, I took a moment to dream about far off lands and mystical realms (yes, I write fantasy!). As I watched the rain batter my office window, my mind wandered to all the places I’ve visited over the years: New York, Paris, Barcelona, and Florence – the list goes on. Travelling is such a wondrous thing to do, and I urge my three teenagers to do more of it when they are older.
To celebrate my eldest son’s eighteenth birthday we’ve booked a Mediterranean Cruise. The beauty of cruising has to be the ability to visit a host of beautiful countries in the space of two weeks – the fact that you can eat non-stop at any given time is also a plus point!
When Barb asked if I would do a guest spot in her absence I warmed to the holiday theme but also took a little guidance from the Friday Five Challenge that Barb and I take part in each week with Rosie Amber. The challenge involves choosing a book from the cover art and blurb and deciding if we would buy or pass. I thought I’d mix it up slightly for Barb’s blog and search for books based on the places I would be visiting on the cruise. So here’s where you can get involved – as you ‘cruise the bookshelf’ you must decide if you would BUY or PASS and VISIT or AVOID.
Pack your bags, grab your flip flops, and join me on a magical mystery tour…
Our first port of call is Cadiz, Spain
The busy Avenida del Puerto is across from the main square and shopping area. From there, it is easy to find your way around this compact and historical city. There is an 18th-century Cathedral (El Nueva) and the view from the top is worth the long climb up its internal stairs.
The narrow streets of the old town below are lined by tall Moorish-style houses with flower-decked balconies mixed in amongst some small shops and tapas bars. Cadiz dates back to the 12th century BC so is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the western world, but sultry Seville has long since outgrown its neighbour.
La Giralda (the bell tower next to its Gothic cathedral), is in Sevilles historic Jewish quarter which also has the whitewashed houses and exquisitely coloured bougainvillea that everyone associates with this lovely city.
The first novel in the critically acclaimed Peter Cotton series following the fortunes of British spy Peter Cotton. For all fans of John le Carré, Robert Harris, Eric Ambler and Graham Greene.
Peter Cotton, a young Intelligence officer is sent to Spain in September 1944. The war in Europe is drawing to a close; formerly neutral Franco is edging closer to the Allies. Cotton has been sent to investigate the activities – and then, just as he arrives, reports of the death – of a British agent, May, who has spent much of the war in the remote outpost of Cadiz monitoring the Spanish smuggling of raw materials to aid the Axis war efforts, in strict violation of the terms of neutrality.
Cotton is briefed in Madrid by Houghton, an agent working at the British Embassy. He also meets Houghton’s partner, Marie, half-Jewish, who has helped many Jews escape through Gibraltar. They brief him on Franco, his paranoid fears of assassination, his capricious cruelty and his duplicity. Even as he gets on the train to begin the long, hot journey to Cadiz, it is clear that Cotton is being watched. And when he arrives in the rundown port, almost on the brink of starvation, it is clear that his visit has been expected. Reluctantly allied with the sinister Ramirez, the local police inspector, Cotton has to investigate May’s death and what exactly led him to sever all contacts with his London controllers in the months leading up to his disappearance. But Cotton is not the only person with an interest in finding out what May had been doing.
Cadiz is a hotbed of rumours and shifting political alliances in this, the final phase of the war and Cotton must navigate his way not only through local tensions but also through the uncertain loyalties of a bizarre expatriate community, including an unhelpful consul, a German woman married to a wealthy Spaniard and mysteriously marooned in the town, an apparently innocent Irish girl, and a strange British couple who chose to remain in Spain while the rest of Europe was engulfed in flames . . . What Cotton discovers amid the stifling heat and dust could just tilt the emerging balance of post-war power.
Our second port is Barcelona, Spain –
The Catalonian capital of Barcelona provides a vivid mix of ancient and modern but is probably best known for the bizarre Art Nouveau architecture of Antonio Gaudi, in particular, the iconic Sagrada Familia, Europe’s most extraordinary – and still unfinished – cathedral.
Boosted by hosting the Olympic Games in 1992, Barcelona’s Old Port area has been transformed into a thriving area of cafés and restaurants. From there, it is an easy stroll up the famous Rambla to the old town. Las Ramblas is thronged with street entertainers, stalls and bars and is most lively at night and weekends. Not to be missed is the La Boqueria food market with its extraordinary displays of fish, meat, fruit and vegetables.
Some of the best food in Spain can be found in the city – paella is a speciality – and the restaurant Cal Pep was recently named as one of the top 50 places to eat in the world.
New York Times bestselling author of It All Began in Monte Carlo
From the Hollywood Hills to the streets of Barcelona, from lush vineyards and wineries to the most exclusive homes in Europe, let Elizabeth Adler take you on a journey with a story that will hold you spellbound.
Bibi Fortunata was the hottest ticket in town: singer, actress, and celebrity. Two years ago she was arrested on suspicion of murdering her lover and his new mistress, who was also Bibi’s best friend.
Bibi was front-page news in a way her publicists had never dreamed of. But the police were never able to prove anything, and she was set free, with the cloud of suspicion and murder still hanging over her. Bibi left for Barcelona where she quite simply disappeared.
But when Bibi’s daughter comes to private investigators Mac Reilly and Sunny Alvarez for help, they can’t resist the temptation to solve this mystery once and for all. Who really killed Bibi’s lover? Who would want to frame Bibi? And who is beckoning them from Barcelona?
Filled with Adler’s trademark lush descriptions, twisty plots, and decadent luxury, From Barcelona, with Love will transport you.
The third stop on our Mediterranean Cruise is Cannes, France –
The old town (Le Suquet) boasts a medieval church and castle and narrow streets full of interesting shops and cafés, but everyone really wants to stroll first along Boulevard de la Croisette. Everything that has made Cannes a haunt of the rich and famous is here: deluxe hotels, smart casinos, stylish boutiques, trendy art galleries and marinas packed with lavishly outfitted mega-yachts.
For the ultimate in people-watching, visit the Observatory of Super-Cannes, which has lifts up to viewing platforms overlooking La Croisette and the rest of the resort. Nice, Monte Carlo, Antibes, Juan les Pins, St Tropez and the medieval villages of Eze and St-Paul-de-Vence are also nearby.
BOOK: The Winner Stands Alone by Paulo Coelho (Hardback, Audio)
“[Coelho’s] special talent seems to be his ability to speak to everyone at once. The kind of spirituality he espouses is to all comers. . . . His readers often say that they see their own lives in his own books.”
From the bestselling author of The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho, comes an absorbing new novel that holds a mirror up to our culture’s obsession with fame, glamour, and celebrity.
Our fourth stop is the wondrous city of Rome, Italy –
Standing in the Colosseum, visiting Vatican City and tossing a coin in the Trevi Fountain are all unique experiences of a lifetime to be had in the Eternal City of Rome, reached from your Italian cruise port Civitavecchia.
Rome’s breathtaking monuments, palaces, churches and classical features are quite unlike anything you will find in any other European city. They will always leave you wanting to come back for more – hence the coin-tossing, which is said to guarantee your return.
The city’s other must-sees include the Spanish Steps, the Pantheon (probably the most complete ancient Roman building in the city) and the Sistine Chapel, home to Michelangelo’s masterpieces.
While steeped in history, Rome is also a modern, bustling city with designer shops and chic boutiques at every turn. Reasonably priced department stores selling all the latest fashions can be found in the many pedestrianised shopping streets while restaurants and cafés spill out onto piazzas offering authentic Italian dishes and sensational ice cream.
BOOK: The Rome Affair by Laura Caldwell. (Hardback, Paperback)
It was an affair…to regret.
Rachel Blakely’s charmed life is significantly tarnished after her husband Nick’s infidelity, but she wants to give her marriage a second chance. Then a business trip to sun-drenched Rome with her best girlfriend Kit leads to a night of passion with a stranger — a one-night stand meant to signify the end of a painful chapter in her life.
Rachel returns home determined to put the past behind her, and at first life seems golden again. Nick is more loving than ever, and following his promotion to senior partner in a prestigious plastic surgery practice, the couple is welcomed into Chicago’s high society, where beautiful people live beautiful lives.
But there is a dark side…one that sends Rachel’s life spiraling into a nightmare.
It’s clear everyone is guilty of something. But whose secrets will lead to murder?
Fifth on the tour is Naples, Italy –
Cruising into the Bay of Naples is a memorable experience. The Naples port is overlooked by the imposing Sant Elmo medieval castle, high up on Vemero Hill, as well as the 13th century Castel Nuovo, which is right next to the Naples cruise terminal in the heart of the city.
Within a short walk, to the left of the terminal, are three of Naples best-known landmarks: Castel Nuovo, the 17th century Royal Palace (Palazzo Reale), and the elaborate 18th century San Carlo Opera House. To reach Naples’ fascinating old town, go straight past Castel Nuovo and then over the Piazza Municipio.
The cities archaeological museum majors on Pompeii and Herculaneum, the two extraordinary sites that draw most first-time visitors to Naples. The city is also a convenient base for tours to the nearby swish cliff-top resort of Sorrento and the even swishier island of Capri.
BOOK: Betrayal in Naples by Neil Griffiths (Kindle, Paperback).
Jim Wolf is abandoned in a Naples back street by a taxi driver. This is not what he came to the city for. But he’s soon found by Louisa – an ex-lover never quite forgotten – now married to a charismatic Neapolitan judge. The three become close friends, and it’s not long before Jim is closely involved in a high profile mafia trial and once again irresistibly tempted by Louisa. Jim is soon out of his depth, seduced by both the beauty and danger of this mysterious city, where betrayal – of a lover, of a friend, of oneself – is part of the way of life, and where, if you break the unspoken codes, a single gesture from a powerful man can condemn you.
The penultimate stop off is Cagliari, Sardinia –
Visually stunning, Sardinia’s capital and main cruise port Cagliari can trace its history back thousands of years to Roman times and features many museums, historic churches and ancient artefacts.
Most of the city’s impressive attractions can be seen just by walking through the walled Castello area with its winding alleyways and open piazzas. Do not miss the 2nd Century Roman amphitheatre and the colourful botanical gardens featuring 500 different plants.
There is a lively covered market every weekday and Saturdays just north of the Castello and you will be spoilt for choice with restaurants in the marina area, with fish and seafood a speciality. There are numerous bars, pizzerias, and ice cream stalls along the seafront.
While, for pure relaxation, search out the superb sandy beaches in Poetto, just 15 minutes from the city.
BOOK: From the Land of the Moon by Milena Agus (Kindle, Paperback)
A unnamed young woman reflects the life of her grandmother, a bewitching and eccentric figure whose abiding search for love spans much of the twentieth century.
In 1943, as American bombs fall on the city of Cagliari, the young woman’s grandmother is thirty and already considered an old maid, unmarried and still living at home with her parents. But when the bombing ceases, and despite her protests, her father forces her to marry the first man to propose, an older widower she doesn’t love.
After suffering several miscarriages, she is sent for treatment at a spa on the mainland, where she falls in love with an injured Italian army veteran and nine months later gives birth to a son. Attributing the pregnancy to her spa treatment, she returns to her husband and never reveals the affair. Decades later, she returns to the mainland and travels to her former lover’s hometown of Milan. Dressed in her finest coat and shoes, she wanders the streets in search of the elusive veteran.
The final port on our two-week cruise is Gibraltar –
Brits love cruising to ‘home from home’ Mediterranean cruise port Gibraltar – and not just because it has some excellent pubs and tax-free shops!
Gibraltar also offers wonderful views of the Bay of Gibraltar and the Moroccan mountains from the Rock Restaurant, served by cable car from the Grand Parade.
Birdwatchers can spot more than 230 species, and there are clearly marked nature trails you can follow to discover the country’s flora and fauna.
The most famous ‘fauna’ of course, are Gibraltar’s Barbary apes – get off the cable car at the halfway station to see these, then proceed to the top and hire an audio tape charting the Rock’s fascinating history.
Alternatively, spend a day at the beach – Catalan Bay is the prettiest, with its colourful fishing boats and excellent seafood restaurants.
BOOK: Shadow of the Rock by Thomas Mogford (Kindle, Paperback, Hardback, Audio)
One humid summer night in Gibraltar, lawyer Spike Sanguinetti arrives home to find an old friend, Solomon Hassan, waiting on his doorstep.
Solomon is on the run, accused of a brutal murder in Tangiers. He has managed to skip across the Straits, but the Moroccan authorities want him back.
Spike travels to Tangiers to try to delay Solomon’s extradition, and there meets a beautiful Bedouin girl. Zahra is investigating the disappearance of her father, a trail which leads mysteriously back to Solomon. Questioning how well he really knows his friend, Spike finds himself drawn into a dangerous game of secrets, corruption and murderous lies.
Time to disembark and find our land legs again. I hope you enjoyed this brief dash around the beautiful Mediterranean and found some interesting books to read.
Thanks to P&O Cruises for the destination information and the stunning photographs. http://www.pocruises.com
Note from Barb: Between the travel and the reads, the entire trip is a VISIT and a BUY for me. (Wonder if there is room in Shelley’s luggage?) How about you?
Guardians of the Sky (Book Two of The Guardians) by S.L. Wilson
Can one girl sacrifice herself to save the one she loves…
Following their daring escape from the demon realm, Amber and her friends become caught up in a war between good and evil. They must join forces with the Queen’s warriors to overthrow a malevolent force that has spread across Avaveil, the land of the Fae.
As her powers grow, Amber is faced with the real possibility that she is a danger to the ones she loves. Her full strength is yet to be tested in a way she can’t comprehend.
Dragons, faeries and humans stand side-by-side as they are drawn into a cunning battle of magic and surprising revelations. Can Amber survive long enough to see her dreams fulfilled?
Contact Shelley Wilson Author of YA Fantasy & Adult Self-Help
Rosie Amber’s Friday Five challenge is to take ONLY FIVE MINUTES to browse an unfamiliar category and select a book based solely on the cover art.
- Go to any online book supplier,
- Randomly choose a category,
- Speed through the book covers, choose one which has instantly appealed to your eye,
- Read the book Bio/ Description for this book, and any other details.
- If there are reviews, check out a couple,
- Make an instant decision, would you BUY or PASS?
- I’ll be back next week with another Friday Five Challenge, do feel free to join in.