03. March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Madeline, NonFiction, Travel

World's Best Cities: Celebrating 220 Great Destinations by National Geographic Society, Keith Bellows, 336 pages, read by Madeline, on 02/15/2015

Delving into the heart and soul of more than 225 cities around the globe, World’s Best Cities is a glossy, glorious tribute to cosmopolitan life. In photos and words, this irresistible volume showcases long-established great cities like Paris, Rome, New York, London, and Tokyo, as well as exciting up-and-comers, including Denver, Asheville, Oslo, and Abu Dhabi. As readable as it is beautiful, this expansive travel guide offers a playful, informative mix of inspirational personal narratives; photo galleries, and fun facts; plus sidebars on oddities; where to find the best food and shopping; novels that capture a particular city’s atmosphere; local secrets; and more. Many additional cities appear in illustrated lists, such as eco-friendly cities, foodie cities; and happiest cities. The twenty-first century is the Century of the City, and on-the-go visitors and armchair travelers alike will make World’s Best Cities a must-have volume to accompany all their urban adventures.

From Goodreads.com.

03. March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Informational Book, Madeline, NonFiction, Travel

My Venice and Other Essays by Donna Leon, 240 pages, read by Madeline, on 02/28/2014

Donna Leon has won a huge number of passionate fans and a tremendous amount of critical acclaim for her international bestselling mystery series featuring Venetian Commissario Guido Brunetti. These accolades have built up not just for her intricate plots and gripping narratives, but for her insight into the culture, politics, family-life, and history of Venice, one of the world’s most-treasured cities, and Leon’s home for over thirty years. Readers love how Leon opens the doors to a private Venice, beyond the reach of the millions of international tourists who delight in the city’s canals, food, and art every year.

My Venice and Other Essays will be a treat for Leon’s many fans, as well as for lovers of Italy and La Serenissima. For many years, Leon, who is a perennial #1 bestseller in Germany, has written essays for European publications. Collected here are the best of these: over fifty funny, charming, passionate, and insightful essays that range from battles over garbage in the canals to the troubles with rehabbing Venetian real estate. She shares episodes from her life in Venice, explores her love of opera, and recounts tales from in and around her country house in the mountains. With pointed observations and humor, she also explores her family history and former life in New Jersey, and the idea of the Italian man.

03. April 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Kim B, NonFiction, Travel

Travels with Charley: In Search of America by John Steinbeck, 210 pages, read by Kim B, on 04/03/2013

travelwithcharley1 I have always admired John Steinbeck’s writing. He takes a trip across America and you feel like you are right there in the truck beside him!



28. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: History, NonFiction, Tammy, Travel · Tags: , ,

50 Years of Making Memories: Silver Dollar City 1960-2010 by Jan Peterson, 128 pages, read by Tammy, on 03/10/2013

This is mainly a photo collection of the history of theme park, Silver Dollar City and Marvel Cave starting with the cave’s discovery. The photos also feature the theme park’s festivals, craftsman and visitors having fun in the park. It was a fun read for me, since I first went to Silver Dollar City as a sophomore in high school with my aunt and uncle, then when in college Branson was only an hour away so it was a great get-away spot for a day of fun with friends. So, the area holds lots of good memories for me.


25. February 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Melody H, NonFiction, Travel · Tags:

Here, There, Elsewhere by William Least Heat-Moon, 402 pages, read by Melody, on 02/22/2013

Here, There, Elsewhere is a charming collection of short stories from William Least Heat-Moon who lives just south of Columbia.  Heat-Moon is best known for his travel collection Blue Highways released in 1982 chronicling his journeys through small town America after he lost his job and he and his wife separated.  Heat-Moon has a very lyrical prose form that well suits his subject matter of the beauty and wonder that is found down every road.  I highly recommend Here, There, Elsewhere not just for the local connection but for Heat-Moon’s artistry of words.  Beautiful book.

15. August 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: NonFiction, Tammy, Travel · Tags:

The Lost Continent: Travels in Small Town America (Paperback) by Bill Bryson , 314 pages, read by Tammy, on 08/06/2012

After the death of his father, Bill Bryson gets nostalgic for the family driving vacations he took as a child from their home in Des Moines Iowa. He decides to come back to the states (he lives in England) and start from his mom’s house and drive across America looking for the perfect small town. He visits some places that the family went to when he was a child, some places, Dad wouldn’t stop for and some because he got lost. He sees some of the best and some of the worst of America and shares it all with ironic humor. This book was published in the late 1980s some obviously some things have changed, but you’ll still learn some fun facts and enjoy the ride with Bryson as he sees the U.S. as both a native son and as a foreigner since he has lived abroad so many years.

06. July 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Literary Fiction, Tracy, Travel

Miles To Go by Richard Paul Evans, 317 pages, read by Tracy, on 07/05/2012

This second book in The Walk series wasn’t as good as the first. The first part of the book the main character Alan is in Spokane Washington staying with a friend after he had an accident on his journey to Key West Florida. It’s winter time so traveling by foot would be a problem. During his recovery he meets more people and his father visits. When he does start again he makes it to South Dakota. I realize these books are meant to be inspirational but I really like the way the author describes his travels and he also gives us some history of the towns he travels through. I don’t know when the next book will be published but I probably will read it.

02. July 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Memoirs, Tammy, Travel · Tags:

No Touch Monkey! And Other Travel Lessons Learned Too Late by Ayun Halliday, 273 pages, read by Tammy, on 06/30/2012

Ayun Halliday shares her adventures and misadventures around the globe as a backpacking low-budget traveler. Besides humorous stories you can also can some insight into some things NOT to do when traveling overseas. I’ve learned I am definitely NOT a backpacking traveler. I value indoor plumbing, clean sheets and mosquito repellant. Yes, if the monkey steals your shoes it really is better to just let him have them than risk injury AND have to replace them anyway, though you may amuse your fellow travelers and your hosts while you and the monkey chase each other through the rooms and stairways both running and screeching at each other.

02. July 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Andrea, Contemporary Fiction, Thriller/Suspense, Travel

Winter's Bone by Daniel Woodrell, 208 pages, read by Andrea, on 06/29/2012

In my opinion, this book didn’t really deserve all the hype it received. However, Ree Dolly is a memorable protagonist and what she has to go through to protect her family without ratting on anyone else is pretty close to amazing. Ree’s father Jessup has skipped bail. Unfortunately no one can find him and if he does not show up for his court date, the Dolly family will lose their home. 16 year-old Ree knows the task to find her father dead or alive falls on her shoulders if her, her mother, and her two young brothers want a chance to survive.

While reading Winter’s Bone, I actually forgot what approximate time period this book took place. It is obviously set in present day, but the Dolly’s are so poverty stricken, what they have to do to do simple everyday tasks seems to put them about a century behind. Their way of life reminded me of Little House on the Prairie in the 21th Century minus the family values and plus a father in trouble for making “crank” (crystal meth). Ree, the narrator, has a rough Ozark Mountain way of speaking which I think Woodrell conveys pretty well. It drew me into the story and helped me see the grimness of her situation a little more. The dialogue is definitely what I liked most about this book. I usually dislike colloquial dialogue but if it wasn’t present in Winter’s Bone, I don’t think I would have gotten into the book. It kind of enhanced the grittiness of the story for me. Her life was certainly not all sunshine and rainbows, and her use of the English language showed that roughness. Like Charles Portis’ character Mattie Ross in True Grit, or Katniss Everdeen in the Hunger Games series, Ree Dolly is a tough young girl on a tough quest that someone twice her age would have a high chance of failure. Although I didn’t really think this book should have received all the rave reviews it did, I did lose myself in Ree’s world down in the Ozark Mountains and it certainly made me appreciate my clean bed in central Missouri.

01. July 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Brian, NonFiction, Travel · Tags:

Sand in My Bra by Various, 194 pages, read by Brian, on 06/30/2012

Sand in My Bra is a book about the perils of traveling, the good, the bad and the funny.  Each story is told by a women and the stories capture scenes from around the World.  Famous women, such as, Ellen Degeneres, Christine Nielsen and others talk about such things as, being chased by African elephants, meeting the man of your dreams and being bitten by healer most of the stories are interesting and some are amusing.  For a quick entertaining read check this book out.

29. June 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Literary Fiction, Tracy, Travel

The Walk by Richard Paul Evans, 289 pages, read by Tracy, on 06/28/2012

When you see someone walking along the road with a backpack do you ever wonder where they came from and where they are going. Alan Christoffersen could be that man who just left everything behind and started walking. At first he had everything you could want. A successful career and a happy marriage. But somethings can be too good to be true. This is the first book in a series where Alan sets out from Seattle to Key West Florida with only a backpack full of camping gear and a credit card. He helps people along the way and they in return help him cope with his losses.

27. June 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Tracy, Travel

Lois on the Loose by Lois Pryce, 294 pages, read by Tracy, on 06/27/2012

It took Lois eight and a half months, over 16,798 miles, to get from Alaska to the end of South America on a dirt bike. Sound like fun? Not for me but she quit her job and drove all the way.  Most of the ride was solo but she met fellow bikers along the way. The North American part was easiest since the language was no problem. But once she hit Mexico and had to deal with the paper work of crossing borders the language barrier was a problem. The usual set backs were the weather, illness and mechanical problems. But Lois had the right attitude and enjoyed herself along the way. It was a fun read but I still wouldn’t do it.

20. June 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Tracy, Travel

Notes From a Small Island by Bill Bryson, 324 pages, read by Tracy, on 06/20/2012

Bill Bryson is a popular travel writer who lived in Britain for two decades. He wrote this book before moving back to the USA. Anyone who has been to England can relate to this book and it might make you homesick. Or you might want to hop on a plane and visit. The villages and the people are all delightfully funny and are heard to say “I’m terribly sorry but” a lot. He includes a glossary of terms like: “lay-by Parking area beside a highway, often used as a depository for unwanted mattresses and other household rubbish”. I really enjoyed this book and have my own copy.

22. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Melody H, NonFiction, Travel

Frommer's Cruises and Ports of Call by Matt Hannafin and Heidi Sarna, 721 pages, read by Melody, on 03/14/2012

Very informational and useful.  While rather out of date, 2007, most of the information still seems to apply.  The first section of the book is general cruise information; what cabin to choose, where to go, what to pack.  The middle section discusses the different cruise lines and ships, their strengths and weaknesses, programs, how many pools, ect.  The last section, which was the most useful to me, is about ports of call in the Caribbean, Alaska, Hawaii, and the continental US.  It lists some of the sites in each port, restaurants, shopping, and the best, how accessible is the port.  Some ports are in warehouse districts with a mile or two walk to any sort of site and some are close to town or even better, the beach.  It was very helpful to be able to know whether I should book an excursion with the ship or if my family would be able to walk to somewhere.

19. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Biographies, Kira, NonFiction, Science, Travel · Tags:

Bonobo handshake : a memoir of love and adventure in the Congo by Woods, Vanessa , 278 pages, read by Kira, on 03/26/2012

Bonobo handshakeI really liked this book, I very much looked forward to listening to it in the car, I also loved the narrators Aussie accent. Vanessa Woods comes across as fun, positive, appreciative of others (except sometimes her man).

The book cover is a bit misleading, you are going to get a bit more than just cute human-ape interactions, relationships, and animal research.  En route you will encounter the brutality people endured in the Congo, in Uganda, Rwanda, about the corruption that Western governments propped up, (out of their fear of communism).  Its Not rated PG.   Since the author is Australian, the reticence to discuss sex, is absent.  Its kind of startling how frank she is.  She is also very funny.  I’ll leave it to your imagination as to what exactly a bonobo handshake is.
Bonobo’s are cousins of chimpanzees, but they are the peaceful loving species. The Chimps and Bonobo’s are our (human’s) closest extant relatives.   The author asks the question are we more like Chimps or Bonobos – but leaves the question open at the end.

06. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Melody H, NonFiction, Travel

To Hellholes and Back by Chuck Thompson, 322 pages, read by Melody, on 03/03/2012

Chuck Thompson is a travel writer and journalist who has been all over the world and loved it.  But what of those places in the world that the State Department, the travel industry, and your mother say you should never go?   To Hellholes and Back is that story.  Thompson chose four places with bad raps; Congo, India, Mexico City, and Disney World (highlight of the book) and recounts his experiences there.   Congo was a land of perpetual bribes; India, two worlds, one of abject poverty and one of technology and promise; and Mexico City  was beer and soccer and just not being able to get kidnapped.  Disney World, ironically, was the stop that Thompson was dreading the most.  Did he succumb to the mind-altering drug that is Disney?  Did Goofy assault him in the parking lot?  Are the speaking heads in the Hall of Presidents as creepy as they seem?  You just have to read it to find out.  I really enjoyed the book and although I have no plans to go to anywhere the State Department issues warnings about, I appreciated that there is always more to a people and a place than what the media tell


28. February 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Claudia, Fiction, NonFiction, Reviewer, Travel

Fodor's Disney World 2011 Plus Universal Orlando and Seaworld by Fodor's Travel Publications, 451 pages, read by Claudia, on 02/01/2012

Fodor's Walt Disney World 2011: With Universal, SeaWorld, and the Best of Central FloridaFodor’s is one of the best known publishers of travel guides around.  I’ve worked in libraries for 20 years now and they are the mainstays of every travel section.  These guides are reliable, well organized, and a ratings system is used throughout the book to assist readers.  I appreciated this guide’s content, but the small type font of the book grated on my nerves before I was halfway through it it.  I missed the inclusion of photographs, but appreciated the maps provided of  each theme park.  The information on rides and restaurants was fairly consistent with what I found in other guides, I just struggled with the format.  For future trips to other destinations, I will continue to consult Fodor’s.  I respect the reputation it has and believe it is a solid source of information.  I simply think there are a couple of other guides, I will consult first when planning another Disney trip.

28. February 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Claudia, NonFiction, Reviewer, Travel

Official Guide to Walt Disney World 2011 by Stephen Birnbaum, 263 pages, read by Claudia, on 02/11/2012

Birnbaum's Walt Disney World 2011In preparation for my family’s first trip to Disney World, I had the opportunity to read this well known travel guide published by Disney Editions.   This guide originally came out in 1981, 10 years after the parked opened, and is known for being completely revised each year leaving “no attraction untested, no snack or meal untasted, no hotel untried!”  Of the three travel books I read about Disney, I preferred this one.  I really liked the format, the conversational tone, the details on EVERYTHING, and the nice color photographs.    I feel this guide fully prepared me to make some informed confident, decisions ahead of time….including making reservations at restaurants.  If I had to choose just one guide on Disney, this would be it!

03. February 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Andrea, Informational Book, NonFiction, Travel · Tags: , , , , ,

Day of Honey by Annia Ciezadlo, 321 pages, read by Andrea, on 02/03/2012

Day of HoneyDay of Honey is a celebration of food and a memoir of war and the death of many people. It is written about Ciezadlo’s life in Lebanon during its internal sectarian conflicts between Sunni and Shia muslims. I am personally interested in all information that deals with Middle Eastern countries, so I was quite excited to read this book and had particularly high expectations for it as well. Ciezadlo describes Iraqi and Lebanese people as folks not unlike Americans. She shows how, despite hardship and death, the Lebanese people have always found comfort in food. With all of the negative media portrayals of the Middle Eastern countries right now, I thought this book was another great piece of literary work to help people in the US and other parts of the world understand the war torn Middle East and its people.