blog tour · book review · Italy

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Secrets on the Italian Island

Publication Day Push – 8th July 2021

Escape to Tuscany

Secrets on the Italian Island

Her work has got in the way of relationships before – but never like this

Anna’s job as a geologist takes her all over the world, including to the beautiful island of Elba, where she’s sent to look for precious metals. And the island isn’t the only thing that’s gorgeous – she can’t believe her luck when she meets windsurfer Marco and sparks fly.

But Anna must keep her role on Elba a secret to avoid upsetting the locals, which means lying to Marco even as they grow closer. When her old friend Toby visits, Anna suddenly finds herself torn between the attentions of the two men. However, Anna’s not the only one keeping secrets.

Is Marco being entirely honest with her? And why did Toby really come to visit?

A fun and escapist romance, perfect for fans of Lucy Coleman and Alex Brown.

Purchase Link mybook.to/SecretsIsland

Author Bio

I’m a man. And a pretty old man as well. I did languages at university a long time ago and then lived and worked in France and Switzerland before going to Italy for seven years as a teacher of English. My Italian wife and I then came back to the UK with our little daughter (now long-since grown up) where I ran a big English language school for many years. We now live in a sleepy little village in Devonshire. I’ve been writing almost all my life but it was only seven years ago that I finally managed to find a publisher who liked my work enough to offer me my first contract.

The fact that I am now writing romantic comedy is something I still find hard to explain. My early books were thrillers and historical novels. Maybe it’s because there are so many horrible things happening in the world today that I feel I need to do my best to provide something to cheer my readers up. My books provide escapism to some gorgeous locations, even if travel to them is currently difficult.

Social Media Links

Website: www.tawilliamsbooks.com

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/tawilliamsbooks

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TrevorWilliamsBooks/

My Review

After reading a lot of psychological suspense and tense historical fiction, I couldn’t have wished for a more beautiful contrast in this third book of the Escape to Tuscany series.

Anna is at a turning point; her job means she moves around a lot and so has trouble forming meaningful relationships that can stand the separation that her work demands. Even her mother is getting in on the search for a husband for her daughter, much to Anna’s dismay. After fixing Anna up with a date – Toby – the son of a friend, her mum is hopeful that he’s the one. But Anna still can’t see how she can reconcile the demands of her job with a relationship. Anna has to decide whether her current, single, career-focused lifestyle is the future she sees for herself, and she resolves to make that decision after her next job in Elba.

Enchanted by the beautiful island, she quickly becomes aware of how mining for minerals could ruin its natural beauty and impact the environment for many years to come. Yet she has a job to do, and so keeping quiet about her real reason for being on the island is paramount.

Especially when she encounters Marco at the beach on her first day. The Italian hunk causes stirrings within her that she hasn’t felt in a long time, and a battle between Sensible Anna and Naughty Anna ensues. It’s a close run thing, and Anna is so close to succumbing to Marco’s charms, despite warnings of his playboy lifestyle. However when she learns Marco is part of an environmental group, it’s clear the two of them are not compatible in any long term capacity. Though a summer fling couldn’t do any harm, could it? And, of course, there’s still Toby to consider after he makes a special effort to interrupt his own holiday to meet up with her in Elba.

It’s getting more difficult for Anna to keep her job a secret, especially when it seems the environmentalists have heard rumours of a mining company exploring the island.

When a man who collapses on the beach, only to be saved by Anna and her colleague when his dog alerts them to his owner’s distress, she further helps out by looking after the man’s dog, George, until he is released. Jack cannot thank her enough and insists she stay in a cabin on his land when her hotel stay comes to an end. Anna and Jack hit it off, and learning that he was in the same profession leads to some fascinating conversations – although Anna can not tell him about her role on the island. The enforced secrecy begins to take its toll and soon Anna is in a hurry to leave.

She’s going to miss Jack and George, and even Marco until she gets a rude awakening that confirms her poor judgement in even imagining any kind of relationship with him. Can she make a go of things with Toby though? Is her mum right about him? And what of her future career path? As the title suggests there are lots of secret of the Italian island of Elba, and eventually they all have to come out. How will everyone react? For that, you’ll have to read it yourself. Trust me, you’ll love the ending even if there’s a tear in your eyes as you finish.

I was enthralled by Anna’s profession and the geological viewpoint on which the story focused, especially the fascinating history that took its toll on similar areas that had been mined at the expense of the environment. I loved the relationship between Anna and Jack, aided and abetted by the delightful George. This was an absolute breath of fresh air, complimented by stunning scenery, delicious food, and the formation of genuine friendships.

Hope there’s a fourth book in the series! The story is as mesmorizing as its cover.

As always


blog tour · book review · family · historical fiction · Italy · saga · WWII

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Paradiso

Paradiso

Italy, 1937. In a tiny village in rural Lombardy, Graziella Ponti is born into a loving family.

Though they are not rich and life is full of challenges, they are content and safe, surrounded by the tightly-knit community of Pieve Santa Clara.

But when the shadow of World War Two falls across the village with the arrival of Nazi soldiers, nothing in young Graziella’s life will ever be the same again.

Paradiso is Graziella’s story. It charts her loves, losses and triumphs as she grows up in post-war Italy, a country in transformation, freed from the shackles of dictatorship yet still gripped by the restraints of the Catholic church.

Paradiso is inspired by true stories told to Francesca Scanacapra by her Italian family and set in locations where she spent much of her childhood. It is a deeply affecting novel which sheds light on the complexity and trauma of Italy’s past and weaves it into the epic tale of an ordinary woman compelled to live in extraordinary times.

This stunning historical read is perfect for fans of Dinah Jeffries, Rhys Bowen, Victoria Hislop, Angela Petch and Heather Morris.

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Paradiso-Utterly-gripping-emotional-historical-ebook/dp/B08X1B15P8/

US – https://www.amazon.com/Paradiso-Utterly-gripping-emotional-historical-ebook/dp/B08X1B15P8/

Author Bio

Francesca Scanacapra was born in Italy to an English mother and Italian father, and her childhood was spent living between England and Italy. Her adult life has been somewhat nomadic and she has pursued an eclectic mixture of career paths, including working as a technical translator between Italian, English, Spanish and French, a gym owner in Spain, an estate agent in France, a property developer in France and Senegal, and a teacher. Francesca lives in Dorset and currently works as a builder with her husband. She has two children.

My Review

An enthralling story representing a side not often seen in WWII historical fiction novels: that of a child in Italy, evacuated to a convent and later returned to her family in a village much changed from the place she left.

Sworn to keep a secret about the death of a couple of German officers, Graziella protects her family … but at what cost? Life in post-war Lombardy has its ups and downs, and we see both sides through the young girl’s eyes as she grows up and into adulthood. For me, the story had a similar vibe to “Anne of Avonlea” (Green Gables) as the reader is drawn into life there, with all the family members and neighbours having their part to play.

I found it interesting how the mothers in the story changed after losing their husbands, how they stood up to be counted in their own very subtle way. Zia Mina’s story would make a great spin-off with the Marcesini family. I would gladly read more about Graziella and her family. Had she found her true love in Gianfrancesco? Would she go on to be a teacher?

A true family drama, both emotionally engaging and historically compelling.
If there is to be a sequel, then count me in. More, please 🙂

Update: as I post my review on Amazon, I spy book 2 – Return to Paradiso!

Wishes do come true! 😉

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Amazon Reviewer Name
Reviewed on Amazon UK as Meandthemutts

blog tour · book review · dual timeline · Italy · mystery · WWII

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – The Garden of Angels

The Garden of Angels

The Palazzo Colombina is home to the Uccello family: three generations of men, trapped together in the dusty palace on Venice’s Grand Canal. Awkward fifteen-year-old Nico. His distant, business-focused father. And his beloved grandfather, Paolo. Paolo is dying. But before he passes, he has secrets he’s waited his whole life to share.

When a Jewish classmate is attacked by bullies, Nico just watches – earning him a week’s suspension and a typed, yellowing manuscript from his frail Nonno Paolo. A history lesson, his grandfather says. A secret he must keep from his father. A tale of blood and madness . . .

Nico is transported back to the Venice of 1943, an occupied city seething under its Nazi overlords, and to the defining moment of his grandfather’s life: when Paolo’s support for a murdered Jewish woman brings him into the sights of the city’s underground resistance. Hooked and unsettled, Nico can’t stop reading – but he soon wonders if he ever knew his beloved grandfather at all.

Purchase Links

http://severnhouse.com/book/The+Garden+of+Angels/9152

Author Bio

David Hewson is a former journalist with The Times, The Sunday Times and the Independent.

He is the author of more than twenty-five novels, including his Rome-based Nic Costa series which has been published in fifteen languages, and his Amsterdam-based series featuring detective Pieter Vos.

He has also written three acclaimed adaptations of the Danish TV series, The Killing.

He lives near Canterbury in Kent.

Social Media Links

https://www.facebook.com/pages/David-Hewson/105480612818443?fref=ts

https://twitter.com/david_hewson

My Review

This story drew me in more and more as I kept reading, and I especially enjoyed Nonno Paolo’s story during the German occupation of Venice as told to his grandson through a series of written notes that he handed over one at a time from his hospital bed.

Nico, the grandson, has recently been suspended from school for a playground ruckus in which he stood back and allowed the school bully to attack another schoolboy. Nonno Paolo is furious that Nico did nothing and just allowed the bullying to go ahead and has second thoughts about handing his story over to Nico as a result, but is determined that Nico’s father is not the right person to read the contents of those envelopes. Persuaded by Nico to let him read the notes, Nonno Paolo hands them over and waits for his grandson to return to visit before continuing the process, checking how his story is coming across to the teenager but without giving away any details of what is to come. 

Nico gets drawn into the story completely, learning how the Germans began rounding up Jews as Mussolini effectively became Hitler’s Italian puppet. The story deals with villagers who help the Germans, with clergy who refuse to do so, and with the harsh conditions people are forced to live in as the Germans enjoy the best of everything.

Nonno Paolo, barely an adult at the time, has recently lost his parents, both being shot by Germans as they sought new clients for their weaving business. His father’s last encounter left them with a job that has to be completed on a strict deadline, but now Paolo only has himself and Chiara to complete the delicate work required. To add to the tension, the delivery destination of the finished products leaves them in no doubt that the items are to be used as part of a German glorification effort.

Faced with what seems like an impossible task, he is then asked to hide two Resistance Jews – siblings, one of whom is injured – who are being hunted by the Germans. What follows is the struggle to get the job done (else face the dire consequences), and to keep the brother and sister hidden, which is no easy task when the sister has vengeance against the Germans in mind. Paolo is forced to grow up very quickly and he finds himself questioning himself and his developing friendships. 

This is a hugely satisfying mystery, combining historical detail with almost a coming-of-age story for both Paolo and Nico. The question is raised about how soon history is forgotten and how easily people can be drawn into making the same mistakes. There is a magnificent twist and a poignant ending. Highly recommended to readers who enjoy historical fiction with an added mystery. It made a refreshing change to read a WWII story set in Italy, and in particular in Venice, and the author’s description of the city verged on poetic at times as he brought it to life in both the past and the present. 

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art · blog tour · book launch · book review · Italy · romance · there's a dog

Publication Day Push ‘n’ Book Review – Second Chances in Chianti

Second Chances in Chianti

Alice thought her future was set in stone, until her past came knocking…

Alice Butler starred in a successful US sitcom until tensions in the cast and crew caused the show to be cancelled. Now, five years later and working towards her dream job in art history, she’s called back for a revival of the show. It can only end in disaster, surely?

Flown to a villa in Chianti to meet with the rest of the cast, Alice must decide where her future lies – with her boyfriend, David, who laps up the Hollywood company, or with the mysterious Matt, who shies away from public attention?

Purchase Link – mybook.to/SecondChancesChianti

Author Bio

I’m a man. And a pretty old man as well. I did languages at university a long time ago and then lived and worked in France and Switzerland before going to Italy for seven years as a teacher of English. My Italian wife and I then came back to the UK with our little daughter (now long-since grown up) where I ran a big English language school for many years. We now live in a sleepy little village in Devonshire. I’ve been writing almost all my life but it was only seven years ago that I finally managed to find a publisher who liked my work enough to offer me my first contract.

The fact that I am now writing romantic comedy is something I still find hard to explain. My early books were thrillers and historical novels. Maybe it’s because there are so many horrible things happening in the world today that I feel I need to do my best to provide something to cheer my readers up. My books provide escapism to some gorgeous locations, even if travel to them is currently difficult.

Social Media Links –

Website: www.tawilliamsbooks.com

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/tawilliamsbooks

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TrevorWilliamsBooks/

My Review

T.A. Williams has gifted us with what we all want right now – escapism. And where better to transport us than to Tuscany, where he adds in an extra bit of glam in the form of Hollywood actors and directors, on top of the beautiful scenery, a stunning villa, gorgeous food, an art-related mystery and the inevitable romance. And, of course, there’s a dog in it – so just about everything I could want from a story.

Did I wish I’d been in Alice’s shoes during that sunny July? You betcha: That said, I was more than happy to tag along with her as she explored Tuscany and found out what she really wanted from her life, too. This was not an angst-filled novel, but more a gentle realisation that some things happen for a reason.

Beautifully written, with enticing descriptions of the Tuscan scenery, plenty of humour, a fascinating mystery, believable characters and Guinness, the Labrador, this proved to be a relaxing read that I didn’t want to put down. Definitely not the last book I’ll read by this author.

‘Cin, cin!’ 😉

 

As always,

blog tour · book review · dark · historical · Italy

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – The Forger and the Thief

The Forger and the Thief

FIVE STRANGERS IN FLORENCE, EACH WITH A DANGEROUS SECRET. AND AN APOCALYPTIC FLOOD THREATENING TO REVEAL EVERYTHING.

wife on the run, a student searching for stolen art, a cleaner who has lined more than his pockets, a policeman whose career is almost over, and a guest who should never have received a wedding invite. Five strangers, entangled in the forger’s wicked web, amidst Florence’s devastating flood of November 1966.

In a race against time, and desperate to save themselves and all they hold dear, will their secrets prove more treacherous than the ominous floodwaters swallowing the historic city?

Dive into a world of lies and deceit, where nothing is as it seems on the surface…

Purchase Link – https://www.books2read.com/forgerandthief

Author Bio:

A full time author, Kirsten is a former customs officer and antiques dealer, and who has also dabbled in film and television.

Her historical time-slip series – The Old Curiosity Shop Series, has been described as ‘Time Travellers Wife meets Far Pavilions’, and ‘Antiques Roadshow gone viral’.

Kirsten released her bestselling gothic horror novel Painted in 2017, with her medical thriller – Doctor Perry, following in 2018.

Her latest thriller – The Forger and the Thief, is set in 1966 Florence, Italy, amidst the devastating floods. Kirsten lives in New Zealand with her husband, her daughters, two rescue cats.

Social Media Links:

Website www.kirstenmckenzie.com
Twitter www.twitter.com/kiwimrsmac
Facebook www.facebook.om/KirstenMcKenzieAuthor
LinkedIn www.linkedin.com/in/kirstenmckenzieauthor/
Amazon www.amazon.com/Kirsten-McKenzie/e/B01F0R5TPS 

BookBub www.bookbub.com/authors/kirsten-mckenzie 

Pinterest www.pinterest.nz/kiwimrsmac/
Instagram www.instagram.com/kiwimrsmac/
Goodreads www.goodreads.com/KirstenMcKenzieAuthor

My Review

With the flooding of the Arno River as the backdrop for this story, the author takes us back to 1966 and the chaos and devastation that hit Florence. It’s November, the time of years when rain is not unusual in the city. The river has a history of flooding going back centuries, and it is a much-feared prospect for its inhabitants. In this case, we have a cast of five strangers telling their stories as the river once more seeks to show its strength. I must add here that the river is a powerful character in its own right with an almighty, almost haunting voice and formidable presence. The author does such a great job in bringing the Arno to life, its whole identity is beautifully explored and highly impactful.

So, back to the people of the story. These are so diverse – or so it would seem – yet their stories are forced to overlap as the river rages. From the student looking for a stolen painting and using her art classes as a cover, to the man about to attend his ex’s wedding having flown in from the US filled with doubt. There’s a woman fleeing an abusive husband, and a cleaner who seems to be caring for his grieving wife while side-lining pieces of art from the museum where he works. And, finally, there’s the policeman who’s ready to retire, worn down by life and now chasing pickpockets and hotel thieves.

Each of them has their plans throw into disarray when the river storms through the streets hell-bent on destruction. The stories race along at a similar pace, fast and furious as the river takes control. Devastation is certain and not everyone will survive.

The Forger and the Thief is an exciting, dramatic story with a dark plot that takes as many twists and turns as the thundering river. Hold on tight, for it’s a bumpy, crazy ride that will leave you begging for more. This is history fictionalised at its best.

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blog tour · book review · Italy · time travel · YA

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – The Violinist’s Apprentice

The Violinist’s Apprentice

A dark journey through time.

It’s on a group trip to Rome that something terrifying and mysterious happens, whirling musical Clementina back in time to 17th century Italy. Amidst court intrigue and creaking carriages, Rome becomes a chiaroscuro backdrop to her growing feelings for young violin-maker Antonio Stradivari. But soon he discovers that Clementina is not all she appears. She must surely be a witch. How can she return to the 21st century again? Meanwhile, in an icy corner of the Arctic, a professor plots.

Purchase Links:

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Violinists-Apprentice-Isabella-Mancini-ebook/dp/B0811Y35MV

US – https://www.amazon.com/Violinists-Apprentice-Isabella-Mancini-ebook/dp/B0811Y35MV

Author Bio –

Isabella Mancini is the nom de plume of prolific author Olga Swan, published by Crooked Cat Books. She has a BA Hons (Open) in English Language and Literature and a lifelong love for writing and language. For 12 years she lived in SW France, but returned to the UK in 2017, where she now lives in the West Midlands with her husband and elderly French rescue dog Bruno.

Previous books by Olga Swan:

An Englishwoman in America

From Paradis to Perdition

Pensioners in Paradis

The Mazurek Express

Lamplight

Vichyssoise

3rd Degree Murder

Social Media Links –

Twitter: @IsabellaManci10.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ManciniIsabella1

Facebook Group: Books, Music and the Past

Amazon page for Isabella Mancini: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Isabella-Mancini/e/B08127KJJW/

Amazon page for Olga Swan: https://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B013IBD4PU

Giveaway to Win a signed paperback of An Englishwoman in America (Open INT)
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter link below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

RAFFLECOPTER LINK

My Review

3/5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the author via Rachel’s Random Resources in return for an honest review.

I have to admit this book confused me. The blurb gave no mention of the age of Clementina, or that she was indeed on a school trip to Italy. As such, I was not expecting the story that unravelled. To be honest, had I known it was about a fifteen-year-old girl, I wouldn’t have chosen to read it. That said, there were elements of the story that were enchanting and captivating.

The time slip back to the 17th Century gave way to some gorgeous descriptions of Italy at that time, and Clementina’s confusion and comparisons to her own life were endearing and often funny. The relationship between Tina and Antonio Stradivari developed nicely, despite their different life experience, and had she stayed it would no doubt have led to a romance. I almost wanted her to stay there, the atmosphere of those times was so vividly brought to life. At the same time, I was keen for her to return home to tell her brother all about the trip. Having lost his sight, Tina brought colour to his world. Little did she know that her father and brother, Andrea, were having an adventure of their own.

This story lends itself well to a series as more challenges await. A teacher – Mr Verdegris – gives Clementina a pendant to be used whenever she feels she is in trouble, it will summon the teacher to her immediately while she is in the other time dimension. There she is tasked with finding and bringing back a genuine Stradivarius violin. Prior to Clementina’s quest, her school friend Ruby had been tasked to find the Dead Sea Scrolls, and another girl, Saffron, is destined for the next mission. But who is the intended recipient of these items? Well, running alongside Tina’s story, a professor waits in the Arctic to hear of her success or failure. This subplot delves into the topic of climate change, but as to the full reason behind the girls’ time travel, that was never really clear to me – maybe that becomes more obvious in the next book.

For me, the story was quite complicated to follow due to the subplots running in conjunction with Tina’s time travel. I’m sure this is setting the scene for future books, and will make more sense in due course.

There was no real conclusion, neither in Italy nor back at school; whether the girls will feature again is anyone’s guess. I didn’t feel the blurb correctly set the course for the story, especially in identifying the target audience – i.e. someone much younger than me 😉 and more likely a reader of YA fiction.

The magical elements of the story, the pendant, the time travel, and the backstory of Ruby’s prior challenge, made for interesting reading, and the author did a good job in depicting an authentic image of 17th Century Rome. Not the story I expected, but enjoyable for the time travel aspect and the location.

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blog tour · book review · British · humour · Italy · mystery · romantic comedy

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – The Ice Cream Parlour

The Ice Cream Parlour

by Isabella May

Giovanna Tonioli is a successful stockbroker with a famous sports star boyfriend, but things aren’t as sweet as they seem. When life in the city of Bath goes from Vanilla to Rocky Road, she takes herself off to Italy for an ‘Eat Pray Love’ style tour of all things gelateria. What she doesn’t expect to find on her travels is one smooth, hot dollop of temptation that she just can’t shake.

How will her spiteful twin sister react when Giovanna returns to open a rival ice cream parlour? Will Natalia get her just desserts? Or will things become even stickier? All’s fair in love, war and ice cream. Isn’t it?

*Marian Keyes meets Paulo Coelho meets Nigella*

The Ice Cream Parlour is a mouthwatering tale of fate, family, love and jealousy – with a delectable drizzle of alchemy besides.

Purchase Link – mybook.to/theicecreamparlour

Author Bio

 

Isabella May lives in (mostly) sunny Andalucia, Spain with her husband, daughter and son, creatively inspired by the sea and the mountains. Having grown up on Glastonbury’s ley lines however, she’s unable to completely shake off her spiritual inner child, and is a Law of Attraction fanatic.

Cake, cocktail, gelato, and travel obsessed, she also loves nothing more than to (quietly) break life’s ‘rules’.The Ice Cream Parlour is her fourth novel.

Social Media Links 

www.isabellamayauthor.com

Twitter – @IsabellaMayBks

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/IsabellaMayAuthor/

Instagram – @isabella_may_author

My Review

4/5 stars

As the first book I’ve read by Isabella May, this one sets a very high bar. It’s an imaginative and creative story – and I’m not just referring to the fantabulous range of drool-inducing gelato on offer.

It’s a mesh of genres and definitely not a typical romantic comedy; it has almost as many layers as the ice cream parlour has flavours.

This is Giovanna’s (Gi) story, and begins when she and her twin, Natalia, are living in Capri with their parents who run a gelateria. Out of the blue, the family (Papa) says they’re moving to England (you might start to get a little suspicious of his reasons, but, of course, he’s not going to tell you 😉 ) Destination: Bath where they will open up a new gelateria. (As you can see, this is not the usual way of things, and Bath, while no doubt a beautiful city, is not Capri by any stretch of the  imagination.)

It is in Bath that most of the sibling rivalry comes to the fore, particularly when Giovanna (who always helps her parents out in the shop) learns that her (much lazier) sister, Natalia will be the only heir. Naturally disappointed and hurt, Gi goes on to have other plans and a trip back to Italy reinforces her ideas. She is determined to show everyone that she and gelato are meant to be together!

Relationships come and go for Giovanna, but her passion never fades. While alienated from her family, new friends (Matt, Kelly, Flo, Nellie) keep her motivated and interesting. There is the inevitable Mafia connection, but it only adds to the mystery that threads through the story from beginning to end.

The author’s writing is witty and current, with plenty of humour, primarily in the form of Giovanna’s sarcasm which is always sharp. The customers in The Ice Cream Parlour provide plenty of interest, with side stories that all seem to connect nicely come the end. I’m not convinced every subplot works. In fact, I feel the regression scenes are quite laboured as though the author is forcing the point a bit too firmly (the point being that the sisters lived many lives before together where roles reversed in each period)

But, getting back to the crux of the story – Gi’s Italian trip is a travel guide all by itself, the ice cream flavours she concocts are inspired, creative and occasionally a tad crazy, but succeed in adding personality to the Parlour and delight the ever eager customers.

The romance element of the story (for Giovanna) is not rushed, and you might even think that poor girl will miss out again (after the sham that was Mr Smug Jeremy!) but do not despair – the author has it all under control. I Love it when that happens 😉

Overall a fun read with a bit of everything thrown into the blender, creating magical flavours and extraordinary characters. I’ll definitely read more of this author’s books, and have already grabbed Costa del Churros for my summer reading.

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99p books · blog blitz · competition · Italy · romance · summer reading · women's fiction

Price Drop Blitz – Summer on the Italian Lakes

Summer on the Italian Lakes

Bestselling Brianna Middleton has won the hearts of millions of readers with her sweeping – and steamy – love stories. But the girl behind the typewriter is struggling… Not only does she have writer’s block, but she’s a world-famous romance author with zero romance in her own life.

So the opportunity to spend the summer teaching at a writer’s retreat in an idyllic villa on the shores of Lake Garda – owned by superstar author Arran Jamieson – could this be just the thing to fire up Brie’s writing – and romantic – mojo?

Brie’s sun-drenched Italian summer could be the beginning of this writer’s very own happy-ever-after…

Escape the January blues with this sun-drenched, heart-warming story from the bestselling author of Snowflakes Over Holly Cove.

 

Purchase Links:

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Summer-Italian-Lakes-bestselling-feel-good-ebook/dp/B07HPD2KNV

US – https://www.amazon.com/Summer-Italian-Lakes-bestselling-feel-good-ebook/dp/B07HPD2KNV

Price drop: only 99p – grab your copy now!

About the Author

From interior designer to author, Linn B. Halton – who also writes under the pen name of Lucy Coleman – says ‘it’s been a fantastic journey!’

Linn is the bestselling author of more than a dozen novels and is excited to be writing for both Aria Fiction (Head of Zeus) and Harper Impulse (Harper Collins); she’s represented by Sara Keane of the Keane Kataria Literary Agency.

When she’s not writing, or spending time with the family, she’s either upcycling furniture or working in the garden.

Linn won the 2013 UK Festival of Romance: Innovation in Romantic Fiction award; her novels have been short-listed in the UK’s Festival of Romance and the eFestival of Words Book Awards.

Living in Coed Duon in the Welsh Valleys with her ‘rock’, Lawrence, and gorgeous Bengal cat Ziggy, she freely admits she’s an eternal romantic.

Linn is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and writes feel-good, uplifting novels about life, love and relationships.

Social Media Links 

Website: http://linnbhalton.co.uk/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LinnBHaltonAuthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LucyColemanAuth

A note from the author

The fun part about being an author is that you get to spend your days in some wonderful locations, even if it’s virtually! But the only way to be able to sit down and really share with the readers what the experience is like, is to visit in person.

Lake Garda is a place I have visited several times over the years, and it will always be one of my all-time favourite holiday destinations. Whether you fly direct or are planning a grand European tour by road – it is a dream destination.

The villa featured in Summer on the Italian Lakes is fictitious but based on a composite of two properties in which I have stayed. But the descriptions of being up in the hills and the trips taken are real-life experiences.

Italy is an overload of stimuli – everywhere you look, every breath you take in, and everything you touch, fills your heart with love for the vibrancy and warmth of this beautiful country. It’s full of passionate people – for love and life. Fiery temperaments, fabulous food and wonderful wines; flavours that literally grab you with their freshness and taste. Wonderful music and art; scenery that will make your jaw drop; beautiful architecture around which to saunter and so many hidden gems to discover.

But up in the hills where it’s quieter, it’s the perfect place to reconnect with the inner you. For me a holiday has to combine everything – lots of exciting things to experience, but also some time to relax and chill.

So, it was the perfect setting for this book and the only sadness for me, was that I didn’t get to do a research trip! I didn’t need to as all of those memories are locked inside my head, and my heart – but, oh, Italy is calling me loud and clear! If you haven’t been, please do add it to your list of must-sees and Lake Garda is the perfect place to begin.

Do you love a competition?

Hello lovely readers and bloggers!

To celebrate the price drop to 99p I will be running a competition on Twitter for one lucky person to win some goodies – an Aria tote bag, two beautiful hand-made Italian soaps and a limited edition mug!

No purchase is necessary to join in – just RT one of my lovely blogger’s Tweets for the 99p promo including @LucyColemanAuth and #SummerOnTheItalianLakes, to take part.

If you have already read/reviewed Summer on the Italian Lakes and take a photo of it on your reading device and/or send a link to your review in your Tweet – IF YOUR NAME is the ONE drawn by the third party, I will add two signed paperbacks from my backlist to the prize!

Don’t forget to include @LucyColemanAuth and #SummerOnTheItalianLakes so we can include your Tweet in the competition. Thank you so much for dropping by and good luck!

Terms: Competition closes noon GMT 29 April 2019; international; anyone can enter; prize to be provided by the author; prize winner will be announced on Twitter by @LucyColemanAuth and on Lucy and Linn’s website (competition page) at noon on 30 April 2019 after being selected at random by a third party.

 

As a huge fan of Lake Garda, and these summery books, I’ll be entering. Will you?

As always,

 

Audiobook · autobiography · blog tour · book review · Europe · expat life · food and drink · friendship · fun · Italy · real life · starting over · travel

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Chickens Eat Pasta

Chickens Eat Pasta

by Clare Pedrick

Chickens Eat Pasta: Escape to Umbria

Not just another romance, but a story of escapism, coincidences, friendship, luck and most of all… love.

Chickens Eat Pasta is the tale of how a young Englishwoman starts a new life after watching a video showing a chicken eating spaghetti in a mediaeval hill village in central Italy. 

“Here I was, 26 years old, alone and numb with boredom at the prospect of a future which until recently had seemed to be just what I wanted.”

Unlike some recent bestsellers, this is not simply an account of a foreigner’s move to Italy, but a love story written from the unusual perspective of both within and outside of the story. As events unfold, the strong storyline carries with it a rich portrayal of Italian life from the inside, with a supporting cast of memorable characters. Along the way, the book explores and captures the warmth and colour of Italy, as well as some of the cultural differences – between England and Italy, but also between regional Italian lifestyles and behaviour. It is a story with a happy ending. The author and her husband are still married, with three children, who love the old house on the hill (now much restored) almost as much as she does. 

Chickens Eat Pasta is Clare’s autobiography, and ultimately a love story – with the house itself and with the man that Clare met there and went on to marry. If you yearn for a happy ending, you won’t be disappointed. It’s a story that proves anything is possible if you only try.

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Chickens-Eat-Pasta-Escape-Umbria-ebook/dp/B012GZXOPY

US – https://www.amazon.com/Chickens-Eat-Pasta-Escape-Umbria-ebook/dp/B012GZXOPY

UK Audiobookhttps://www.amazon.co.uk/Chickens-Eat-Pasta/dp/B07BYLZX3X

US Audiobook – https://www.amazon.com/Chickens-Eat-Pasta/dp/B07CBJRG9C

About the Author

Clare Pedrick is a British journalist who studied Italian at Cambridge University before becoming a reporter. She went on to work as the Rome correspondent for the Washington Post and as European Editor of an international features agency. She still lives in Italy with her husband, whom she met in the village where she bought her house.

You can follow Clare on her Facebook Book Page, her own Facebook page and on Twitter.

Read her blog about life in Umbria hereGiveaway to Win an audiobook copy of Chickens Eat Pasta (Open Internationally)

Winner gets to pick between audible and ibooks audio code

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter link below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

RAFFLECOPTER LINK

Good Luck!

My Review

This was such a fun read for me, having had a similar experience. I was totally absorbed in Clare’s world, I recognised the people she met, the endless bureaucracy that was involved in living abroad, the challenges of getting things done, and the absolute charm and curiosity of her new neighbours. These were people who welcomed her with open arms, yet remained a little cautious by her strange ways (I loved Tito and his bamboozled state when she would send her articles ‘down the wire’ at his store and not even rack up any kind of bill at the end of it)

With great neighbours, who became life-long friends – Ercolino and his aitches, being one of my favourites – she might have felt alone, but they didn’t desert her when she needed help. This whole story was a wonderful example of community spirit, especially the gatherings for weddings and funerals.

The author entertained us with fabulous characters, the kind you just could’t make up. It was like an episode of the Dingles in Umbria! I loved it!

Vivid imagery really brought the settings to life, I could easily visualise Clare zipping along those winding streets in her Cinquecento (which just happens to be my most favourite car right now).

And then there’s the food! Who can read a book about Italy, and not drool over the endless feasts where one and all come together to celebrate, grieve, sing, dance, cry and laugh ( not forgetting the hilarious squabbles between Generosa and Settima, and the missing artichokes from the vegetable patch)

And through it all, Clare fell in love not only with her house, but the people, their customs (despite the cultural differences at times) and also with the man of her dreams.

A feel-good story that really resonated with me; it made me smile, sigh and occasionally squirm, but the overwhelming effect was to appreciate Clare’s story – the Good Life in all its simplicity, at a time when the world wasn’t quite so small as it is today.

For more reviews, check out these blogs – you won’t regret it – and then make you’ve entered the giveaway.

As always,

Camp Nano · Italy · romantic comedy · women's fiction · writing

It’s Camp NaNo time …

This Spring, I’m venturing outside my comfort zone to try my hand at a new genre: Romantic Comedy.

Now, this might be an absolute DIS – AS – TER, but even so I’m looking forward to treading a new path.

So, I’m taking my story to Italy. As a proud, confirmed European, I couldn’t resist such a glorious setting. After many childhood holidays to the Adriatic coast, followed by city breaks and cruises to Florence, Milan, Pisa and Rome, I always thought Italy would be my final destination in life. (I know! Shock, horror – and you thought I’d never leave Spain!)

Well, Italy still holds a place in my heart, so never say never. The memory of pizza at Lake Garda gets my mouth a watering just thinking about it, as does the idea of spooning lashings of parmesan over penne al’arrabiata … mmm, truly scrumptious …and then there’s the gelato. Need I say more?

Anyway, back to writing … say hello to

Freedom

After years of putting up with her mother’s manipulative behaviour, controlling manner and constant put-downs, 36-year-old Penny has had enough. She books a long-awaited trip to Italy in the hope of finally breaking free.

But when Mother finds out, she invites herself along. She doesn’t mean to ruin Penny’s plans really, but worries her daughter cannot cope without her. (Or it may be just the other way around)

However, after an unexpected visit to the police station, a fellow Brit, Seb – now a long-term resident in Rome – offers to help them out.

Seb and Penny chat by text messages as she continues her tour to other Italian cities. His kindness and thoughtful words make Penny realise there is more to life than being her mother’s daughter.

I’ve even created a cover mock-up, since the good people at NaNoWriMo reckon having a cover image will make me more likely to finish. We shall see 😉

To be honest, that’s just an excuse. I will finish this story as it’s been promised for an anthology later this year. I just like having a play in Canva – and no, it’s really not procrastination 😉

So, I’m off to see the sights with Penny. There will be history and art, museums and monuments, lots of great scenery, wonderful food, and a whole lot of enlightenment.

Join me?

I’ll be back with an update next week. Until then,

ARRIVEDERCI