Reading Maze For Book Reviews

Reading for the Young & Old

The Almond Blossom Appreciation Society

Having written recently about the Lonely Planet guide to Andalucia it seemed a natural leap to look at the written work of Chris Stewart. I have The Almond Blossom Appreciation Society open here as I couldn’t find my copy of his more famous Driving Over Lemons.

This guy was once a drummer with Genesis. Actually i saw him at my very first rock gig when I was eighteen, back then the band had two drummers, Chris and that other Collins fellow. He moved his family to Andalucia pretty much on a whim a couple of decades ago and there are at least three great books that cronicle his adventures, from buying his land in the first place, through times of real struggle and hardship, to becoming an accepted part of the community.

He writes with lovely self deprecating whit and humour, and infects you with his love of life, but he doesn’t present an indomitable spirit that may leave you feeling inadequate, rather he leaves you feeling that you too could do what he has done.

Buy Driving Over Lemons and go south to read it. You too will start looking at prices of land and wondering what you could do. And in the past two decades there has probably not been a better time to give it a try.

Andalucia – Lonely Planet

I first stopped off in Andalucia on an Imagine Cruising holiday with a girlfriend I hardly remembered until I started writing these words.

So amazing was the place to me that I have travelled back many times with different friends and family.

I have gotten used to using Lonely Planet guides now, and so my companion on the tours is this fellow, now my third after I let the first drop down the loo and I gave my second to a pretty girl at the airport one day when she asked if I knew where she could find a copy in English.

I don’t love it.

It is too high level for me now, but a few years back it was perfect. If I could get a version that takes the level of detail on a few notches then that would work so much better.

But when you get used to a publisher’s format you are as well sticking with it or you’ll find your self chasing after facts that are somewhere else.

So while this time I will not recommend the book with unreserved praise, I still do recommend the region. And my heartfelt advise is this – go inland!

The costas have been pretty much ruined, but view them from in land and you’ll have a completely different perspective and your love of Spain may grow too.

Where to Ski and Snowboard 2012: The 1,000 Best Winter Sports Resorts in the World

Those who love their winter sports will really enjoy this highly detailed and well-illustrated book.  It is very extensive, with 704 pages divided into 30 chapters, all aimed at the British skier and boarder.  It is not exactly portable due to its size, but the sheer amount of information it packs into its pages means that it has become the bible for every keen skier.  There are over 550 colour graphics including 150 amazing panoramic mountain maps produced especially for this book, which is in its 16th edition.

The book covers a total of 1,100 resorts around Europe and North America, giving additional details for 450 of the most popular ones.  Highlights of the book include Val Thorens in Savoy, France; Saas Fee in Switzerland; the Stubai Valley in Austria and Bad Kleinkirchheim – known as BBK by ski aficionados. 

Not only is this an extremely thorough review of the best winter sports resorts, but it is realistic, impartial and unbiased.  The pros and cons of each resort have been put together by a team of enthusiasts who have visited each destination, and star ratings are also included so that readers can make an educated choice about which resort is the right one for them.

Anyone who is thinking of taking a ski holiday in the 2011/2012 season will find this beautifully-presented book a great source of information to plan their holiday, and the photographs and illustrations will continue to be enjoyable long after your ski boots have been packed away.

Luxury Houses: Holiday Escapes

If you truly want to treat yourself on this year’s holiday, this book is an excellent investment.  It features stunning, high-end properties in which to enjoy a luxury holiday in some of the world’s most desirable holiday locations.

Not just aimed at travel fans, those interested in architecture, property and design will also enjoy this book and its 300+ colour photographs.  It is beautifully presented in a hardback cover, and includes all the relevant information one might need before choosing the right villa – including the sometimes jaw-dropping prices of these luxury holiday homes.

Inside the book you will find details of designer Karl Lagerfeld’s former villa, set in Monaco with six bedrooms, a private beach, a pool and Jacuzzi – available for a cool €30,000 per week.  You can also dream of visiting the Birkenhead House in Hermanus, South Africa, which has eleven bedrooms and three swimming pools and is available for around $7,000 per night; or Villa Indigo in the Caribbean, which has a private beach as well as a sandbar, should you have a spare $38,000 to spend on your holiday.

It is not just beach homes that are featured in this book – luxury ski chalets in Switzerland, modern apartments in New York and contemporary homes across the world are also included.

This book is a great source for anyone who wants to spoil themselves with a truly unforgettable holiday, or simply have a peek at how the other half lives.

Dream Cruises of the World

This magnificently illustrated hardback book on cruises would be an excellent addition to any bookshelf or coffee table.  With 256 pages covering 18 cruise routes, the book explores most of the classic cruises, including the famous Northwest Passage route, island cruises, exciting explorations of the Caribbean or Antarctic; together with river cruises along the Mississippi or the Nile.

The descriptions of the destinations are concise, making this an easy book to browse through, with all key information simple to find.  The stunning photography captures the locations beautifully, and is bound to inspire novice cruise travellers.

One of the best things about this book is that it caters for all tastes and pockets.  It includes luxury ship cruises, river cruises and budget cruises, as well as being a great reference guide for armchair traveller. Each route is described in details, giving information on the history and the culture of the area. The book also includes suggestions for excursions in the local vicinity of each of the destinations. 

There are handy travel information panels for for each of the cruises, detailing costs and weather conditions at different times of year, so readers can make an informed choice when selecting a potential cruise and choosing when to travel. These panels also include useful contact details such as addresses and telephone numbers.

Seasoned cruisers will find this book charming and well-researched, but equally, this book is a great guide for anyone considering taking a cruise for the very first time.

The Rough Guide to – series of travel guides

The “Rough Guide” series of travel guides have become immensely popular travel companions for a wide variety of holidaymakers. Known for their invaluable information about discovering attractions off the beaten path, they will prove to be indispensible, no matter where in the world you have planned your escape.

There is an impressive range of destinations included in the series and of course, all the major cities, such as New York, London, Berlin, Cairo and Istanbul, to name just a few, are covered extensively. However, there are also some handy guides for different types of getaways. For example, “The Rough Guide to South America on a Budget” has become highly sought after with backpackers looking for a more authentic and down-to-earth experience, while the “Rough Guide to Thailand” has also been a popular choice for adventurer seekers.

The vast majority of content, especially for the better known locations, has been written by both highly experienced travellers and locals, and you can rest assured that the information will be clearly explained and up to date. Everything from flights, local transport, hotels, hostels, bars and restaurants will be included and each category is conveniently split into ranges of budget, to be certain that everyone’s needs are met.

No matter what sort of information you are looking for, whether it’s for finding the best luxury cruise or ideal location for your ski holidays, the Rough Guide series will have it covered. It could be the most important item you take with you on your holiday.

Lonely Planet Travel Guides

Whether you are booking flights to Tehran, searching for the best cruise deals in the Bahamas, or planning your ski holiday in North America, the Lonely Planet series of travel guides will provide you with all the information you need. They have covered an extensive list of destinations across the world, and as well as their comprehensive guide books on cities like London, Paris and New York, you can also find guides that span each continent.

One of the main reasons why the Lonely Planet travel guides have become so popular is the friendly and easy to follow nature of the content. Although these books are written by professionals with plenty of experience and familiarity with their destination, they still know exactly what the complete newcomer is looking for. The standard of travel writing is held in high regard, and the authors have even collaborated on a “Lonely Planet Guide to Travel Writing”. They also know that their books have to appeal to a wide variety of holidaymakers, and no matter what your reasons may be for visiting your destination, you are sure to find some indispensible advice.

What’s more is that they have also released travel guides that are specific to popular types of holidays, such as the “Thailand’s Islands and Beaches” edition. Everything is categorised in a logical and simple manner, so you will never be scanning through pages and pages of information you don’t need. This is easily one holiday item that you will not want to leave behind.

DK Eyewitness Travel Guides

DK Eyewitness Travel Guides are easily among the most popular travel books for holidaymakers and they cover a wealth of destinations right across the world. There is handy and indispensable advice from experienced travellers on everything from cruise holidays and booking flights to the best value accommodation and restaurants. Of course, what has also made them such a sought after name in travel books is the invaluable insider information that can help you discover the more authentic side to the city or country you are visiting.

However, the series’ broad range of destinations is not only limited to towns and countries, as there are also editions that will be the prefect accompaniment for touring different continents. Europe and America are covered, as too are popular regions such as Tuscany in Italy and Provence and the Cote d’Azur in France.

What many people admire most about the DK Eyewitness Travel Guides are the easy to read maps and transport information that is included for every destination. Of course, the content will be accessible and extremely informative for any reader and the wide variety of hotels, restaurants and attractions that they try to include in each edition, ensures that a wide range of needs will be catered for.

Whether you are booking flights to Cairo, are looking for some inside information on the best location for your ski holidays or are searching for cheap cruise deals on your adventure across Europe, DK Eyewitness Guides should be among the first items you pack into your suitcase.