Book Review

The Ice Cream Parlour – Isabella May

As you well know by now, I can never resist a book by Isabella May, and so I am over the moon to be taking part in the blog tour for her latest book, The Ice Cream Parlour. Many thanks to Isabella, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources, for inviting me to be a part of the tour and for providing me with my copy of the book.

BLURB:

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.

The Ice Cream Parlour Cover

PURCHASE LINKS:

Order here

REVIEW:

Well, what can I say? From the delectable front cover to the mouthwatering gelato and ice cream flavours (yes, there is a difference), Isabella’s latest offering is another triumph.

I have something of a love affair with Italy, and gelato to be honest, and reading this book made me long to return. Capri is one of my bucket list destinations and reading this book just made me move it closer to the top of the list. I lived in Bath too for a short period, and Isabella’s descriptions took me right back to my time there.

They say that hell hath no fury, and this is certainly true of Giovanna. Although some of her decision making was perhaps questionable, you can’t help but fall in love with her spirit and passion. No matter what adversity she faces, she just keeps fighting back. Alongside Giovanna, there is a colourful supporting cast, each individual and beautifully developed. I loved getting to know the regular customers at the ice cream parlour, their little quirks and favourite choices of frozen dessert.

This book isn’t all about the food though. It also comes with a healthy dose of intrigue relating to a certain well known Italian family, a dash of romance, and a rather dramatic conclusion.

Isabella May has created such a strong brand with her instantly identifiable, gorgeously tempting covers, she is one author where you know you can always judge the book by it’s cover. Add to this the sprinkling of magic and spirituality that has become Isabella’s trademark in her writing, and you have another winner.

I could rave about the beauty of this book for hours and still never say enough. You really must read it – just not when you are hungry.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Oh What a Author PicIsabella 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:

Website

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

For more mouth-watering goodness, why not have a look at the other blogs taking part in the tour.

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Summer on the Italian Lakes – Lucy Coleman

I’ve got a great special offer for you all today. Summer on the Italian Lakes, by Lucy Coleman, which I reviewed earlier this year (you can read the review here) is currently on sale for just 99p.

Make sure you read all the way to the bottom for a lovely message and fab giveaway from Lucy.

BLURB:

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…

Summer on the Italian Lakes yellow

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon.com

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Summer on the Italian Lakes Author Photo

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:

Website

Facebook

Twitter

GIVEAWAY:

Summer on the Italian Lakes 99p Prize

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.

Book Review

Summer on the Italian Lakes – Lucy Coleman

It’s my stop on the blog tour for “Summer on the Italian Lakes” by Lucy Coleman today. Many thanks to Lucy, and to Rachel’s Random Resources, for inviting me to be a part of the tour, and for providing me with a copy of the book.

BLURB:

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…

Lakes yellow

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon.com

REVIEW:

The thought of heading of to Lake Garda for writing retreat is heaven to me. I have a bit of a love affair with Italy, and having spent a day in Sirmione, during a holiday in Venice, I would love to explore the other towns and villages surrounding the lake. The descriptions of the Villa Monteverdi and the views over the lake took me right back to my various trips to Italy, and had me heading straight to the internet to try and decide where to visit next.

It was impossible not to fall for the charms of Arran Jamieson, and it was easy to see why Brie found herself for falling for him so quickly (no spoilers there, I am sure. It was obviously always going to go this way). I would have liked to have got to know more about the characters attending the retreat, and it was a shame that we really only got to see the guests for one week.

Despite the beautiful descriptions of the location, and the adorable hero, I’m afraid I did struggle a little with this book. Although I loved the premise and the story itself, the writing style was just not for me, and at times I felt like there was too much information being delivered that detracted from the story.  Obviously, writing style is very subjective, and I know other people who have read this and haven’t had a problem with it, but sadly it wasn’t for me. That said, I did appreciate the nod to the readers who write reviews.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

LBHFrom 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:

Website

Facebook

Twitter

GIVEAWAY:

Win a Chocolate dipping set (UK only)

Writing Retreat Prize

*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.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494194/

Don’t forget to stop by the other blogs taking part in the tour.

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Book Review

The Secret – Katharine Johnson

I am kicking off my 2019 reviews with the moving book, The Secret, by Katharine Johnson.

BLURB:

Love, Lies, and Betrayal in Wartime Italy.

Two girls growing up in Mussolini’s Italy share a secret that has devastating consequences.

Against a backdrop of fear, poverty and confusion during the Second World War, friendship is tested, and loyalties are divided until a chance encounter changes everything. 

Their lives diverge when beautiful, daring Martina marries and moves into Villa Leonida, the most prestigious house in their Tuscan mountain village, while plain, studious Irena trains to be a teacher.

But neither marriage nor life at Villa Leonida are as Martina imagined. And as other people’s lives take on a new purpose, Irena finds herself left behind.

Decades later, a tragedy at the villa coincides with the discovery of an abandoned baby, whose identity threatens to re-open old wounds among the next generation.

You can purchase your copy of The Secret here.

1-ne_preview

REVIEW:

Despite the sometimes distressing subject matter, The Secret is a gentle book, with characters who welcome you into their world with open arms. It is a warm, inviting read, and the traumas and tragedies faced by some of the characters are handled gently.

Although the story is told from multiple viewpoints and moves backwards and forwards through time between the Second World War and present day, this does not feel at all jarring as it does in other books I have read. Instead it feels completely natural and fluid as the story unfolds. I particularly loved the way in which Carlo drew out his mother, Irena’s, story through the use of a dictaphone.

Although the title refers to a singular secret, it soon became apparent that there was more than one resident of Santa Zita has something they want to keep hidden for one reason or another. I loved how each of these unfurled slowly through the book, with each secret seemingly having an effect on the next. Without giving too much away, there is one secret that left me wondering a little and which I would like to know more about, but at the same time, it felt natural that this would remain a bit of a mystery to the reader, as it was a mystery to the rest of Santa Zita.

I was lucky enough to spend a long weekend in Florence some years ago, and instantly fell in love with the city. This book made me yearn to return and explore more of Tuscany, and maybe discover some of the Tuscan villages that are off the usual tourist track.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

author pic

Katharine Johnson likes writing about ordinary people who through a character flaw or bad decision find themselves in extraordinary situations. She’s a journalist living in Berkshire, England with her family and springy spaniel. When she’s not writing you’ll find her exploring cities, visiting old houses, playing netball, eating cake or restoring her house in Italy which is nothing like Villa Leonida.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Facebook

Twitter

Blog

GIVEAWAY:

Win 1 x Signed copy of The Secret and 1 x Signed Copy of The Silence (UK Only)

*Terms and Conditions –UK 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 I reserve 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 I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494175/

Many thanks to Katharine, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources, for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, and for providing me with my copy of the book. Please make sure you stop by the other blogs taking part in the tour.

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