Thursday, January 22, 2009

Thursday Talk Time: What Are You Reading?

What is our regular columnist, Annie West reading? Contemporary category romance? Historical? Maybe a romantic suspense or an urban fantasy?

Actually, no. Though I have several teetering stacks of romances to be read (I tell myself this is a GOOD THING as anything blocking out the light from the windows is added insulation in our blistering Aussie summer!).

Here are the titles I’m currently curling up with. I tell myself it’s research, and it is, but the truth is I’m enjoying myself too much to call it all work!

‘Morocco, A Sense of Place’, photographs by Cecile Treal and Jean Michel Ruiz, text by Marie-Pascale Razier. The fact that the photographers are listed first tells you exactly why this book appeals. It’s the sort to sit and drool over.

My dear friend and crit partner Anna Campbell found it for me in Melbourne and now at last I’m taking time to savour slowly each page. The souk, the exquisite calligraphy carved into the walls of mosques, the man in a sea of rose petals awaiting distillation (the petals, that is!). This book is magic, from the raised, embossed cover that makes you want to slide your palm over it to the map at the back: Fes, Casablanca, Tangier, the names conjure so much. This volume is the perfect entry to a world of exotic daydreams and romantic ponderings. You may know that I’ve written the occasional sheikh book and though that’s not on my agenda just now, one day...

‘Insight Guide to Northern Italy’ A terrific way to get a quick glimpse of the area.

I love these travel guides, and the DK Eyewitness guides too as they give an outline of different regions with luscious colour pics. Call me shallow but that always works for me (see above!). As well as giving information on locations and attractions there are short sections on history, art, architecture, music, food etc. Beware, given the size of the book these sections are only short – enough to whet the appetite for more – but they’re great for a quick outline. There are the usual recommendations on where to stay eat plus Italian phrases at the back. The list of further reading is useful too.

I bought this purely for research. It’s been a while since I visited the area and as part of my current project is set there (the part I haven’t written – argh!) it’s a handy reference guide. Not by itself enough for thorough research, but a great start.

‘Australian Gourmet Traveller Special Italian Edition, May 2007’
May 2007? MAY? 2007?

Yes, I confess, I haven’t yet read it cover to cover. For me these glossy mags are a very occasional treat to be delved into and savoured. Besides, life seems to intervene between mouthwatering articles and I have trouble finding time to get back to them. However, given the location of the current wip (who mentioned work?) this seems the perfect time to revisit the culinary delights of Italy. And with instructions on how to make Mother-in-Laws’ Tongues and Virgins’ Breasts (both sweet treats) as well as terrific travel pics, how could I resist?

Is anyone else on a travel-reading binge at the moment? Can you recommend any books, maybe ones you’ve used yourself, perhaps even to plan a trip instead of a story? Or maybe one you’ve lusted after in the bookstore. I’m always eager to expand my list of possible resource books!

Annie’s current release is THE BILLIONAIRE’S BOUGHT MISTRESS (out now in Australia and New Zealand with a bonus novella by Melissa James). And yes, that’s a hint! She’d love it if you raced out right now and bought it. You can read an excerpt and some reviews on her website.


  1. I find the Blue Guides to various places are excellent. They are far more in depth than DK. I recently read A Thousand Days In Venice which is the true story of an American chef who meets and a marries Venetian. Francesco da Mosto's books/programmes are excellent as well.
    I am going to Venice in March and so have been reading up.

  2. Ah, Michelle, I have a well-thumbed Blue Guide to Greece that was invaluable on my first trip there, despite its massive size. Yes, they're great books with plenty of detail. Thanks for the recommendation. I might pick one up soon and see what's in it for Northern Italy.

    The trip to Venice sounds fantastic. Research or pleasure? I was just reading about Bergamo, west of Venice and remembering how gorgeous the old town was.


  3. Annie, congratulations on THE BILLIONAIRE'S BOUGHT MISTRESS! As you know, Rafe and Antonia's story is one of my favourites of yours. And that's saying something! Like picking your favourite Lindt chocolate out of the praline selection! Great book!

    That Morocco book IS drool-worthy, isn't it? I fell in love with it when I first saw it. I wanted to buy something to inspire your Arabian Nights fantasies!

    I'm currently reading books for the RITA contest and finding some interesting new authors. Sadly, I can't list them here because that would be against the rules. I've got Liz Carlyle's The Devil You know waiting for me once I've done my duty. I've been on a bit of a Liz Carlyle binge lately. I think she writes great books!

  4. Congrats on your latest release, Ann! It just so happens that I'm reading 'The Billionaire's Bought Mistress'. I'm totally hooked.

    I have a fantastic coffee table book about Havana. The mostly black-and-white photography is stunning--you just want to jump inside the pages and explore the city.

    When I'm researching a story (and holidays), I find travel books from Fodor's, Frommer's and Lonely Planet so useful.

    ~ Vanessa

  5. Hi Anna,

    Good luck with the RITA reading. How nice to have another good book waiting as a reward when you finish. That's the way to do it?

    Ooh, thanks for the nice words about Rafe and Antonia's story. I love the idea of my books being compared to Lindt chocolate!

    The Morocco book is definitely inspiring Arabian Nights fantasies. Only trougle is I have to finish the books I'm supposed to be writing before I can lash out there again. Something to look forward too!


  6. Vanessa, how lovely to hear that you're hooked on my billionaire story! That's terrific news.

    Your Havanna book sounds a real treat. There's something about great photos that can really inspires, isn't there? I'm imagining you in a room full of travel books now, researching...

    Thanks for popping by.


  7. Congrats on the new release, Annie. I'm so tempted by the Morocco book but I've got a stack of Botswana books lined up as research reading.

  8. Hi Annie,

    I love DK travel guides. They're in full colour and are filled with great details and facts.

    I used one in the UK, and one in Italy. I bought one about Vietnam for my parents, and my dad's reading it already (they don't leave until April!).

    Btw, my tbr pile is also huge. I've hidden it in my wall unit behind closed doors because it's starting to scare me! Lol.

    Your book is still there - I'm sure I'll get to it in, oh, 2010! Just kidding!

    :-) Mon

  9. Annie --
    The trip is for my husband's 50th, but I always think of anywhere I go as book research expeditions. Next up though is one based in the Kingdom of Naples as I went to Sorrento last October.
    The blue Guide for Morocco is also excellent. It is on my husband's list of possible places to go in the future. I think Cox & Kings have great pictures in their brochure.

  10. Hi Annie! What a variety of books you're reading at the moment! That Morocco one sounds divine! We used good ol' Lonely Planets for our recent trips. They're so useful, although they tend to be geared towards the younger generation (quoth the greybeard!)

    I don't know what it's called but my mother has a lovely book that details the produce and specialties in each region as you travel around France. With great pics, too!

    I've been on a Nora/JD Robb binge lately. Nothing non-fiction although I'll have to get stuck into some research for the next book I write.

  11. Liz, I'm all agog at the idea of your Botswana research. Can't wait to see what comes out of that! Have you been reading the Alexander McCall Smith books set there? Fun and research at the same time.

    If you get a chance later, do look out for the Morocco book. It's just stunning. Sigh.


  12. Hi Monique,

    Well, it's not long till April. No wonder your Dad is dipping into the guide you bought him. What an exciting trip that should be.

    My tbr pile has been split as, like yours, it's too big. I have psrts of it in different rooms...!

    Hope you enjoy Antonia and Rafe's story when you get to it.


  13. Michelle,

    I don't know Cox and King's. Will have to investigate further.

    Sorrento as a base for a story sounds very enticing. I suppose you can't wait to get started.

    Love the idea of going to Venice for a 50th. I doubt I'll make it there when mine comes around but what a great idea, to celebrate with a trip.


  14. Hi Michelle,

    I'm laughing at the idea of the Lonely Planet guides being for 'younger people'. As if you're ancient! Actually, reading the Lonely Planet guide to Salzburg before our last trip gave us a couple of terrific little suggestions that made a real difference to us.

    Your mother's book sounds fantastic. My husband is currently planning a trip for us to France (goodness knows when that will happen since we just got back from Europe) but he'd love something like what you'd describe.

    I just acquired a new JD Robb too, as well as a stack of other books. Can't wait to get stuck into them!


  15. Annie, I have read the first few AMcS books sets in Botswana and found them charming. I did live there for a year in bush conditions while the dh constructed a town out around me. It's now described as "quaint" in the brochures - clearly they're not still drinking beer outside a tin hut with cable drums for tables! Plenty of ideas to work with though, although whether I can work in the bit where the dh quelled a strike with conjuring tricks is debatable. Worth a go, though :)

    I'm going to be doing a follow up to The Bride's Baby -- a celebrity wedding planned by the girl with purple hair and Doc Martens.

  16. Liz, your follow up book sounds terrific. I wonder how the purple hair will go down in Botswana?

    What terrific experiences you have to draw on. Your time living in the bush must have had some memorable moments. Will look out for a story with conjuring tricks! Sounds like your dh is quick on his feet.

    Charming is a great way to describe the AMcS books. So refreshing.