Friday 27 April 2012

TRAVEL MONTH REVIEW - 'An Idiot Abroad: The Travel Diaries of Karl Pilkington', Karl Pilkington (Canongate Books, 2010)

Accompanying the successful TV show of the same title, in which Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant send their grumpy comedy sidekick and self-confessed miserable git, Karl Pilkington to visit the seven wonders of the world entirely for their own amusement (and ours). This is a record of his experiences and observations en route to 'enlightment'.

The whole crux of this book (and the telly programme, of course) is that this is a man who hates leaving his home comforts - lets put him in what he would consider the most unpleasant and uncomfortable situations and have a good chuckle. Which is ok, because Pilkington appears to be in on the joke most of the time. And this is a funny read. Funny, not laugh-out-loud hysterical, though. I was hoping for a few more giggles, if I'm honest.

However, there are some classic lines. My particular favourite -

He offered me a glass of nut juice. Of all the things to get juice out of, I can't think of anything less juicy. I was still getting my head round the fact that carrot juice existed, now nut juice.

An Idiot Abroad: The Travel Diaries of Karl PilkingtonAnybody reading this book who is unfamiliar with the TV series might not get too much out of it. Most of the comedy is mined from the delivery and it was only because I could picture him and hear him saying these things that I found them amusig. I checked out a couple of reviews on Good Reads from people clearly clueless about Karl Pilkington and the jist of their assessments is (and I'm generalising slightly/a lot here) 'what a miserable git' (they're correct, but that is the point) 'why is a trip like this being wasted on him?' (the comedic potential for larfs). And so on and so forth.

This is no ground-breaking travalogue. The structure is very samey. Karl goes to wonder. Karl notes down some observations. Karl has a bit of a moan (mainly about toilet-related matters), transcript of phone conversation between him and Ricky or Stephen (slightly scripted TV feel to them), Karl makes a few final observations. End of chapter.

The phone transcripts seem a little pointless. I get how they worked on screen, but, on paper they are over-long and a bit unfunny and appear to be levered in to increase the Gervais/Merchant content.

In terms of the travel aspects of it all, I enjoyed the Brazil and Petra chapters, particularly his exchanges with Brazilian guide Cesco (of nut juice-gate). On the whole, I would have like more observations on the whole travel side of it from Karl and a little less of the TV related stuff.

So, as a a companion piece to the TV series, this works a treat. As a stand alone travelogue, not so much. So, yeah, if you're a fan, read away, if you're not, this probably isn't going to persuade you otherwise.


I was particularly drawn to the Mexican obsession with death. There as something about embracing the dark side is a celebratory manner that drew me to this country. I've always wanted to explore south and central America and this didn't discourage me. However, this didn't offer anything particularly enlightening in terms of travel observations, just funny commentary about the usual (bowel movements, foreign eating habits and the like). But, I'm ok with that.

Thursday 19 April 2012

TRAVEL MONTH REVIEW - 'Amy and Roger's Epic Detour', Morgan Matson (Simon and Schuster, 2010)

With her family ripped apart by a tragic loss, Amy is instructed by her absent mother to drive their car across country from California to Connecticut, ready to leave behind all their memories and start afresh. But Amy doesn't do driving anymore, so a travel companion is foisted upon her, a long forgotten family friend and college sophmore, Roger. Both carrying baggage of the metaphorical kind, they decide to take a little detour from the itinerary and make a fair few discoveries about themselves in the process.

Two words that I associate with North America and travel - ROAD TRIP! Ok, three words - ROAD TRIP BABY! (the baby bit is very important). Apart from having a strong hankering for an indulgent long weekend in NYC, my main desire for travel in the US of A consists of hitting the open road, Thelma and Louise- stylee. So it was with great excitement that I picked this one up after it was recommended to me by several bookish folk.

Even on the interstate, there were green, rolling hills on either side of the car, for as far as the eye could see. It looked like pictures I'd seen of Ireland, but I had no idea that parts of my own country looked like this. It hit me once again just how big America was, and until now, how little of it I'd seen.

Amy & Roger's Epic DetourAnd I loved it. This was an engrossing one day read with the lot - romance, chemistry, tragedy, big old Southern mansions, topiary, bitchy beauty queen types and fast food. (god, the food! Why do we not have region-specific fast food chains in the UK? The only one I can think of is Greggs, but they're everywhere now anyway. And they're not really the same. Or do we have more? Am I missing something?). Like I said, THE LOT. It also has some wonderful little extra story-telling devices - handwritten notes for their travel journal, copies of room reservations, Roger's state-by-state playlists. And that boy has some impeccable taste in music. The only downside of this was that I was reading it on my Kindle and I really did need some reading glasses to the power of a million to decipher some of these notes. Maybe one to read on good-old fashioned paper, I reckon.

I was particularly impressed with the well-drawn out characters. Amy was great. Her awkwardness and matter-of-factness were brilliantly done. This could so easily have come across as annoying but she was very realistic and empathetic. We learn a lot less about Roger and I would maybe have liked a little more as he did come across as a bit bland on occasion. But this was really Amy's story, so that was I guess that was unavoidable for the most part.

It won't be a complete shock or particularly spoilery to mention that there is romance involved. The build up is EXCELLENT. Perfectly pitched with spine-tingling chemistry in buckets. My only criticism of this was that the pay-off was a little...'was that it?' MORE PLEASE.

My only other gripe was the use of flashbacks. Yes, they gave us a lot of information and were, in general, fairly short, but they did slow the pace right down. The writing was skillful enough in the present day chapters for this reader to get the required emotion and the impact Amy's past was having on her actions. Also, the foreshadowing could be a little heavy-handed on occasion. Lots of bits about 'letting go' felt about as subtle as day-glo pink sledgehammer.

Anyway, this was perfect YA in every other respect. Perfect travel YA, in fact, so perfect for me!


Despite the length, there's something about 'the loneliest road in America' that appeals. Why am I drawn to all the dark stuff? I really am a shiny, happy person, honest *does cheeky, chirpy cockerny knees up dance* Living in the UK, I love going to BIG spaces where you can properly see the stars at night. Loving the large expanses here. And the food! Yes, for me, travelling is about eating as much as seeing, and this had that in spades. I've never really associated North America with unusual cuisine, but this book mentioned so much yummy stuff that I simply must try one day. NOM. NOM.

Tuesday 17 April 2012


Hale knew, before he had been in Brighton three hours, that they meant to murder him...

Ok, so I promise not all of these posts are going to be about a location that starts with the letters BRI... Promise, this is the last one. I SWEAR.

Brighton, Brighton, Brighton...what can I say. 'London by the sea' as some folk might call it? This city on the south coast of England is famous for it's hipster-ish qualities, alternative vibe and just general trendiness. So, my reasons for including a location that is just shy of an hour's train journey from where I live at the moment?

Well, one hour on the train does still technically count as travelling. Fact.

Secondly, despite have lived in London on and off for the last nine years, I have never been to Brighton *hangs head in shame*. I know, it's ridiculous and embarrassing and I'm not quite sure why. I'm 99 percent sure I would love it there, but I guess it's that old saying all those people say (you know the ones), something about what's on you own doorstep and that you might over look it, or something. Ok, maybe there isn't a saying. Well, there should be. Or I should be able to remember it.

So, why a literary tour of Brighton? Well, only for the reason that I'm planning on going there in the next couple of weeks and it's probably the only place I'll talk about this month that I will actually visit in the near future. And I just wanted to write a bit about these books. So there. Well, I've picked a few books to talk about, not all of them I've had the good fortune to read (yet). The first is probably the most famous Brighton related book. And when I wrote the first book review I'd written since my school days last year, it was about this classic. So still fairly fresh in my memory then (hopefully).

It is, of course, Brighton Rock by Graham Greene.

And what a book. It has it's faults in terms of some of the characterisation, but when it comes to utterly compelling villains, teenage psychopath Pinky takes some beating.

The 1930s Brighton here is a bleak, tacky affair, where people fall victim to their weaknesses and they is always someone looming to prey on the vulnerable.

And the most amazing, most fabulous thing about this? It has THE BEST opening and closing lines ever. Seriously, they're just magnificent.

I've never since the original film adaptation. You know, the Dickie Attenborough one. Yes, him out of Jurassic Park. But I so want to after watching the more recent 1960s set one. (Looks good, but god, it was LONG). (And felt even longer when you're watching it in an empty room, sitting on a very uncomfortable plastic chair after all you normal furniture has been shipped half way across the world...)

So, if you've never read Graham Greene, you love classics and you love YA, then I would thoroughly recommend this - it goes for the extreme end of the teen angst spectrum but is defintely worth it.

Sugar RushBrighton Book Number 2 - Sugar Rush by Julie Burchill.

I can't believe I still haven't read this. I've been planning to for my YA classics month coming up in the not too distant future (ok, I haven't actually pinned down a month yet, but I'm guessing it will be closer to the end of the year then the beginning). In terms of UKYA, I would argue it has the reputation as a bit of a modern classic, with the Channel 4 adaptation from a few years ago gaining a slight cult status. Anyway, it's written by Julie Burchill, who you can find out a bit more about here. Trust me, you have to read this *lifts jaw up off floor*. To call her controversial is a slight understatement. Famous journalist and 'militant feminist' she appears to have pissed off pretty much everyone in the last 30-odd years. Having not read the book myself, I can't comment on the whole Brighton aspect of it all, but I know this is a bit of a milestone in LGBT literature and any book considered a 'milestone' is worth a read, in my book. (cue cheesy comedy drum roll)

When I started writing this, I was mulling the depths of my memory for some more Brighton-set YA, THEN - light bulb moment - of course, not that long ago, I read...

Let's Get LostBrighton Book Number 3 - Let's Get Lost by Sarra Manning.

Apart from being one of my favourite titles of a book ever, this has a great mix of comedy, snark and tragedy, following queen bitch Isobel as she comes to terms with an event from the past that's been haunting her and the fact that she has fallen for a slightly-less-than-acceptable older guy. I can't remember whether the location gets that much of a look in, apart from all the trendy references, but I love books about bad girls turned good(ish). And it has an awesome cover.

So, I'm fairly sure calling Brighton 'London by the sea' doesn't do it anywhere near enough justice. Maybe I'll go there, fall in love with it, move there and write a book set there. One day, Anna...One Day...

...She walked rapidly in the thin June sunlight towards the worst horror of all.

Sunday 15 April 2012

TRAVEL MONTH REVIEW - 'I Left My Tent in San Francisco', Emma Kennedy (Random House UK, 2011)

It's 1989, and Emma and her best friend Dee head to the USA to make their fortune. But completely inept and virtually unemployable, they discover that they can't even get a job in McDonald's.

Forced to travel from California to New York with only pennies in their pockets, they bounce from scrape to scrape, surviving on their wits and the kindness of strangers. Bad luck and misfortune throw everything their way -- snakes, earthquakes, black magic and incontinent dogs. They even get kidnapped by a sex-crazed midget in a Ferrari. This never happened to Jack Kerouac. (Synopsis from Goodreads)

I Left My Tent in San FranciscoWhen I first decided to undertake a travel month for my blog, this book moved from the back to the forefront of my mind. I have fond memories of various 90s comedy sketch shows starring one Emma Kennedy and have been following her amusing twiter feed for a while now (I highly recommend checking out her website for some very funny anecdotes). I discovered this book whilst reading a pant-wettingly hilarious column in the Guardian about her childhood camping experiences. And I love a good comedy biography. Travel, comedy, it was a bit of a no-brainer to include this one, really.

A was expecting laughs and I got them. I don't really want to go into too many specific incidents for fear of ruining the experience for the potential reader, but there were I couple of times when I did that thing of chuckling away to myself in silent hysterics for quite a long time after putting the book down. Apparently, my husband finds this REALLY annoying, but I just couldn't stop. I had to pay several trips to the bathroom to pull myself together.

One of the other great things was the pace - whenever I pick up an autobiography, I live in dread that, no matter how much I hero-worship the author, it will be sluggish and self indulgent and will be the literary equivalent of sorting paperclips. But thankfully, the pace here was great - we move very swiftly through the university years and from then on it's set piece after set piece and all the better for it. I particularly enjoyed the little sub plot of her parents parallel event-filled jaunt across Europe. (Three words - HAUNTED NAZI MANSION.)

I've never been to the US, but this book is a great nostaligic trip for anyone who'e ever taken a gap year and chooses to remember it through those ever-reliable rose-tinted specs. Whilst reading this, I remembered all those long forgotten days of anguish and boredom and frustration and the fact that the streets of foreign climbs aren't always paved with gold, more likely dog shit and flecks of vomit (I had my own little adventure with BUNAC in Australia). But this makes it all funnier when recalling these experiences. With the benefit of a few years, mind.

So, a brilliant read, highly recommended, and you can't say better than that really.


Um, yeah, if you're prepared for your trip and remember to bring your tent, you're probably less likely to run into trouble with midget porn barons, BUT, your travel biography would make very dull reading. So, swings and roundabouts, I guess.

Friday 13 April 2012


Now, with a theme month comes guest posts, and I knew exactly who I as going to ask to do my first one. I am very, very, immensely pleased to welcome the very funny, very fabulous Jo from Wear The Old Coat. Her reviews always have me in stitches as I'm sure they do you, because if you're not reading them, then you bloody well should be. 

Anyway, over to you Jo...

Now because I have the slightest of slight book buying problems, most of my money goes on decorating my bookshelves and adding to my teetering ‘to-read’ pile. And because I’m an impoverished book buyer, I don’t have much spare cash lying around to go wandering around our glorious globe. 
But one of the joys of reading for me is the ability for them to take you to places that you’ve never been before.
I know that sounds like an awful cliché, but it’s true.
The rain can be hammering on my bedroom window or I could be stuck on a crammed train pressed up against a random stranger who is eating cheese and onion crisps, but if I’ve got a book in my hand, I could be anywhere.

The books transported her into new worlds and introduced her to amazing people who lived exciting lives. She went on olden-day sailing ships with Joseph Conrad. She went to Africa with Ernest Hemingway and to India with Rudyard Kipling. She travelled all over the world while sitting in her little room in an English village.” 

 Roald Dahl, Matilda

However, when I am sitting in my little room in an English village, there are a few places that I would like to travel to but these books haven’t be written yet.
And I know young adult authors are very busy people, what with the writing and all, and they just don’t have time to plan and write books willy-nilly.
So, to help them out, I have compiled a list both of places I’ve been to and would like to go again and places that I’m desperate to go to and I’ve come up with a Potential Book Idea That Authors Should Write For Me [PBITASWFM].


I have always, always wanted to go Germany and do it properly. I say ‘properly’ because I have actually been there once (a high school trip to Cologne but we were there for approximately two hours and I nearly fell down the stairs of the bell tower. If any of you have ever been there before you will know that there was a great risk of me breaking me face!). A couple of months ago, the comedian Al Murray did a travel documentary around Germany and it was absolutely wonderful. I fell in love with the beauty of the landscape, the breath taking architecture and the fantastic characters he met along the way. And ever since I saw that, I have been desperate to go. 

PBITASWFM: This is going to be a historical novel and before you groan and roll your eyes and shout at me because woah, woah, woah Germany was only part of one period in the entire history of the world… I want this to be set in the ‘60s at construction of the Berlin Wall a la
Goodbye Lenin!     

I’m going big with this one because I am desperate for this book to be written. I’m thinking that this book is going to have to be told from two perspectives because I believe it would be the only way to do this subject justice. The first perspective is going to be in modern day Berlin where the MC looks back at his/her history and the second is going to be told by a person who was directly affected by the construction of The Wall. After all, history affects everyone, doesn’t it?
I would love a young adult book that not only gave a realistic portrayal of this period but also celebrated the brilliant spirit of Germany and its culture and, of course, took me on a tour around modern day Berlin.
Obviously, this book would be a bit of a project, so I would not mind coming to Berlin and helping out with the research and the eating of delicious German cuisine. 

New York.

Like any girl who has watched every single episode of Sex and the City approximately ONE MILLION times, I want to go to New York. To me, New York is the place where you go when you’ve made it. Naïve, I know, but I don’t care. I do heart NY.
But because I’m a bit of a film geek [I actually did my dissertation on films set in NY] and I’ve seen lots and lots of films set there, I feel like I’ve already been there. That’s not to say I wouldn’t go in a heartbeat if someone said “HEY JO! FREE TICKETS TO NEW YORK. GO!”
So if there is a book that’s going to be written set in New York, I want it to be somewhere I’ve never been before. Like this: 


Isn’t that gorgeous?! That’s the abandoned underground station underneath City Hall. 

PBITASWFM: Basically, I’m after Cath Crowley’s Graffiti Moon… but set in New York. A mad night in New York where two characters who have only just met run around the streets of NY, seeing things that tourists aren’t usually privy to, and fall in crazy, beautiful love. 


If I could visit anywhere in the world, it would be here. Can you imagine waking up to a giraffe looking at you through your window?! 


PBITASWFM: Who am I kidding? I would literally read anything set here. You want me to be more specific? *Sigh* OK, fine. I’m using the idea that Reynje and I came up with a few weeks ago.
Warning: It’s mental.
A girl discovers that she can change into a lion when she gets angry and discovers that her sensitive best friend who has been in love with her since she was about two can turn into a zebra. One day, she turns into a lion and runs around the Serengeti and meets a brooding Wildebeest who turns into a dangerous boy with floppy hair and a crooked smile.
And together they… like, save the world or something.  


OK, I’ve been to Edinburgh so many times I’ve lost count but, after Manchester, it’s my favourite city that I’ve been to. I just love everything about it.
This book is going to be set in Mary King’s Close. You can find out more
 here but basically, it’s an underground street just off Edinburgh’s Royal Mile and it combines period dress, history and GHOSTS. That’s right, ghosts.

PBITASWFM: A history student from Edinburgh University gets a job as a guide in Mary King’s Close and… wait… why am I telling you this? This is the book that I want to write. You’ll just have to wait and see...

Thank you to the gorgeous Anna for allowing me to ramble all over her blog!

Wow, thanks Jo! I think you'll all agree that these MUST BE WRITTEN. Preferably by Jo herself. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Check out her awfully good blog right here folks. Maybe we can all start petitioning her to write the German one...

Tuesday 10 April 2012

TRAVEL MONTH REVIEW - 'Jessie Hearts NYC' , Keris Stainton (Orchard Books, 2011)

Jessie is all set to enjoy a summer with her friend, Emma, staying with her estranged playwright mother in NYC. However, the Manchester teen finds herself enjoying a serious of almost encounters with the equally confused and conflicted Finn. The fact that Finn is in love with her best friend's girl makes things even more complicated.

It was very refreshing to pick up a book (I say pick up a book, what I really mean is raise aloft my Kindle in all it's convenient glory) that isn't too laden with angst ridden drama and tearing-their-hair-out teens. Ok, Jessie.. does have a little bit of this, but this neat little twist on the classic New York love story is a generally sweet and happy affair, and all the better for it.

Jessie ♥ NYCTold from the alternating perspectives of Jessie and Finn, both our progtagonists are likeable without straying into goody-two-shoes territory and mis-guided enough to make them ring true. Perfect YA main characters then. I particularly liked Finn. We've all been there, falling in love with someone we can't have and spending most of our time banging our head against a brick wall trying to figure out why we insist on staying in self-destruct mode...Sorry, bit too much overshare there. ANNNYWAY... Yes, Finn, loved him.

Jessie seemed remarkably well-adjusted for a girl with such an unconventional family set-up. Have to say, I never really warmed to her mother, Natalie, even towards the end, although I liked the fact the author has highlighted how, for some, nuturing does not come naturally. But some of her actions were a bit on the reprehensible side, so BOO to Natalie on the whole from me.

I adored the summer setting. When I think New York love story, and I automatically think romantic snowfall, crunching along the sidewalk, rugged up in snuggly winter gear, pretty, pretty, pretty. But the long, hot summer thing really worked for me here.

The pace of the writing was brisk and lively and there were no points where I felt the book drag. The only downside for me was that I hoped the story could have taken a few more risks and maybe have some snappier exchanges between the characters, but other than that, this is a great, light-hearted, refreshingly up beat read for those who get a bit teary when watching Sleepless in Seattle.


As much as I enjoyed reading about New York in the summer, I think I'll pass if/when I ever actually get the opportunity to go there myself. It will be a spring time sojourn methinks. Too sweaty for my liking. And I hope a visit to the Empire State Building lives up to these expectations and won't just be full of annoying tourists bumping into each other. But, yes, New York, our paths will cross one day, I can be sure of that.

Monday 9 April 2012

TRAVEL MONTH REVIEW - 'Are You Experienced?', William Sutcliffe, (Penguin, 1998)

Liz travels to India because she wants to find herself. Dave travels to India because he wants to get Liz into bed. Liz loves India, hugs the beggars, and is well on her way to finding her tantric center. Dave, however, realizes he hates Liz, and has bad karma toward his fellow travelers: Jeremy, whose spiritual journey is aided by checks from Dad; Jonah, who hasn't worn shoes for a decade; and Fee and Caz, fresh from leper-washing in Udalpur. (Synopsis from Goodreads)

Are You Experienced?Ok, warning firsts. I've had a bit of a think about this and I've decided it's impossible to write a review of this without giving away a few spoilery spoilers in the process. Which I usually try to avoid doing, but hey-ho, there you go. So, BIG OLD (sort of) SPOILERS BELOW. If you're interested in that sort of thing.

Well, even though our protagonist, Dave, is technically a teenager, I'm not sure I would class this in a strict young adult fiction category. I'm going to try and avoid a big analysis of what constitutes YA etc etc. -  I should imagine a lot of older teenagers would enjoy reading this, but there is something about the tone and humour that screams 'adults looking back in nostalgic/mocking fashion' if this makes any sense whatsoever.

Well, I was in a bit of a conundrum about this one. On the one hand, the writing is VERY good, very sharp, witty, to the point. And this book is extremely funny. They was one particular scene that had me weeping. I make no apologies, I'm British and will therefore find toilet humour hilarious. I dog-eared so many pages with sublime quotes that this is yet another book I have left in tatters.

Seeing these fresh-faced scared little bunnies about to head off around India reminded me how pleased I was that I'd got the whole thing over with. In the end, I was glad I'd done it, but I had to admit that the having done it was more fun than the doing it. Crapping your pants, for example, is a dire and miserable experience; but having crapped your pants - I mean, that's a pretty good conversational party-piece.

HOWEVER, mmmmm, this is an out and out satire and is so full of vitriol, it oozes from every page. Most of the characters have no redeeming features - they are either clueless, trust-fund, sloany-ponies, or faux-hippy snarky, uppity madams. Even our narrator is far from lovable. Yes, he manages to cut through the bullshit with his cynical barbs, but he is whiny and sex-obsessed and you can't really blame most people he comes into contact with for trying to get as far away from him as possible.These people don't learn any lessons, they don't get their comeuppance, they don't kiss and make up. Which is kind of the point. As a satire it works really well. In showcasing the more unpleasant aspects of the backpackers' relations with their host country, it touches on issues of racism and colonialism. In terms of plot, it doesn't work quite so well -  characters are dropped at the, er, drop of a hat, and certain scenes are ridiculously contrived, which just doesn't fit with the honesty of the tone.

So a funny, intelligent read, yes. Maybe I'm getting a bit soft in my old(er) age, but after I finished this, I wanted to read something light and fluffy and heart warming to compensate for the slightly unpleasant aftertaste it left me with.

Oh, and just a quick note about he cover of this particular edition - AWFUL. Penguin, what were you thinking?

(told you it was a quick note).


I don't think you'll find a better book that depicts the horrors, boredom and therefore the truth about the backpacking experience. But if you're a backpacker, don't expect any sympathy. The main thing I think you get get from this one is don't eat burgers in India. Seriously, don't. And don't expect to remain on good terms with you travelling companion by the end of you trip.

Sunday 8 April 2012


Well, this is my first little literary travel tour, And, yes, I have chosen a rather odd location, agreed. But I have my reasons...

Over the years, I have had a bit of a like/love/really love/miss/get-slightly-annoyed-with/resent/sort-of love-from-a-distance-kind of relationship with this city. Let me explain...When I was eighteen (lets just say this was a while back) I decided to go to Australia on a gap year. About a week after arriving in the Land Down Under I, along with some other fellow fresh-faced backpacking types, decided Sydney wasn't quite doing it for us and we bought bus tickets up the coast. The plan was to find work on the Gold Coast or Brisbane and work out what we were going to to from there.

Well, in short, this decision changed my life. A few days after hoping off the bus in Brissy, I applied for a boring sales job, met a boy and, well, several years and two children later, he's still sitting next to me on the sofa watching a film on his phone whilst I veg out in front of Britain's Got Talent (the Australian in him just doesn't get it) (and before you say it, Australia's Got Talent just isn't the same - no Cowell, no Walliams, ok, get back to matter in hand Anna...). A lot of key decisions I have made in my life, I have made in this city. The most recent one was deciding I wanted to be a writer. So when I think of writing YA, I think of Brisbane.

A house, not an old person. Romantic...Sort of
Over the years we have flitted back and forth to the place they call BrisVegas (I've never been entirely sure why it is called this - irony? It's not that laid back). This place has a very strange hold over me. When I think of Australia, I think of Brisbane. It doesn't have the obvious WOW factor of Sydney or Melbourne, but when I was a little traveller person, shacked up with my Aussie fella in the a slowly falling apart little wooden shack in the suburbs (ok, not quite a shack, but pretty close, looking back *shudders thinking about size of mahoosive cockroaches*), I remember thinking I was experiencing much more of the real Australia than in any backpackers hostel in Kings Cross. It's this strange mix of city and country and there's something about a rickety old Queenslander than conjures up dusky, laid back, romantic images (that's a HOUSE by the way, not an old native Queensland person. That would be weird.).

So, literary Brisbane. Well, in the whole YA genre, the man man here is Nick Earls. Resident Brisbanite and Aussie YA champion. I, personally, am not a massive fan of his writing - he has a very unique style, that I get you either love, or not-love-very much-at-all. Anyway, as an introduction, I would go with 48 Shades of Brown. I remember catching the film adaptation late one night, and getting all excited spotting places we drove past on the way to do the shopping etc. As much as I found fault with some of the book, I love the way he captures this place and the feeling of being young and in love here. Sorry, sorry, feel free to vom. Cheeszoid mushy stuff is over now.

The Girl Most LikelyAnother Brisbane author worth checking out is Rebecca Sparrow. It is a real regret that I never got a chance to read more of her stuff while I was there, (hopefully I will in the future when funds permit me to ship vast amounts of Aussie books to London) but The Girl Most Likely is a great, very funny depiction of a woman having a mid-20s crisis and not knowing what the blooming heck to do about it. With sexy neighbour thrown in for good measure. What's not to love?

Probably my favourite Brisbane-based author is Belinda Jeffrey. Ok, so none of books so far have actually been set in Brisbane, but I urge you to check out Brown Skin Blue. One of the most affecting YA books I've ever read. That's all you need to know.

Two other things I have to mention that are literary and Brisbane related -

1) Annerley Community Bookshop on the south side. I used to work here one day a week last year and it is one of my absolute favourite places in the whole of the city. If I could live there, then I would, well, live there and just smell the books all day (what? come on, it can't be just me..)

2) One Book Many Brisbanes. This is an annual short story competition run by Brisbane City Council, with the winners being published in an anthology. You can't find a better literary-shaped depiction of this unique place anywhere else. Oh, and one Belinda Jeffrey was a winner back in the day. You can't get better pedigree than that. So if you can find a copy of one of them then, read it, obvs.

So, that concludes my mini-literary tour of Brisbane. Hope you've enjoyed it. I've only really scratched the surface here. Wonder where we'll be going next? *drums fingers on chin and looks of into distance with misty-eyes expression*