**Blog Blast** From Venice with Love- Rosanna Ley

I’m delighted to have been invited to take part in this blog blast for ‘From Venice with Love’ by Rosanna Ley.

Praise for the book

Synopsis

The bestselling author of The Lemon Tree Hotel returns with an enchanting new holiday read about family bonds and following your heart, wherever it might take you.

With her marriage in danger of falling apart, Joanna returns home to the beautiful but dilapidated Mulberry Farm Cottage in rural Dorset, where her sister Harriet is struggling to keep the Farm afloat and cope with their eccentric mother.

When Joanna discovers a bundle of love letters in the attic, written by a watercolourist named Emmy, she is intrigued and sets out to discover Emmy’s true story.

Emmy’s letters take Joanna to the picturesque alleyways and bridges of Lisbon, Prague, and the most romantic place of all: Venice – where a whole new magical world seems to unfold in front of her.

Meanwhile, back at Mulberry Farm Cottage, a mysterious prowler adds to Harriet’s problems and interrupts her search for a perfect partner. Will she ever find true love? Where will Emmy’s mesmerising pathway lead? And more importantly, will Joanna and Harriet be able to rescue the cottage and finally be able to re-discover their sisterly bond?

About the Author

Rosanna Ley works as a creative tutor and has written many articles and stories for national magazines. Her writing holidays and retreats take place in stunning locations in Spain and Italy. When she is not travelling, Rosanna lives in West Dorset by the sea.

Review

This book had me intrigued from the outset! A tantalising blend of themes which weave naturally into the narrative, this is a tale of family bonds and relationships, love and heartache and explores how history can sometimes repeat itself without you even realising it.

Despite the title, only part of the book is set in Venice. The author takes the reader, and two of the main characters on a journey to the Italian city, Lisbon and Prague as Joanna attempts to uncover the mystery behind the painting which has always hung in her room in Mulberry Farm Cottage.

The rest of the book is centred in the Dorset countryside and author Rosanna Ley does an excellent job of creating a feel for each of the locations with her vivid descriptions. I loved how the Mulberry tree became central to the story as it unfolded too.

While I was able to predict some of the storyline as it developed, the ending came as a delicious revelation! I need to know what happens next now!

With many thanks to the author, Quercus books and Milly Reid for the opportunity to contribute to the book blast.

*Blog Tour* The Book of Us- Andrea Michael

I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for this latest novel by Andrea Michael.

The Book of Us is a story of the complexity of forgiveness and the friendships that change our lives forever. Perfect for fans of Jodi Picoult, Jojo Moyes and Diane Chamberlain.

We’ve got some important things to talk about. It’s time.

Cass and Loll used to be inseparable. They met at university and they made sense, like two halves of a whole. They had planned their lives around each other, writing down their dreams in The Big Book of Our Life – the things they wanted to achieve, the places they’d go after they finished university. But then one night changed everything.

Seven years later, Loll receives a letter from her old friend. The coming year will be the year they both turn 30, but Loll might be making it to 30 alone. Cass has cancer. Loll had believed she would have her whole life to come to terms with Cass’ betrayal, but time is running out. Cass’ final wish is to complete The Big Book of Our Life, but has enough time passed to heal old wounds?

Author Bio

Andrea Michael writes books to explore complicated relationships. Having trained in using writing for therapy, she really believes in the magic of stories to change your life. Failing that, sparkling wine and obnoxious sing-a-longs also do the trick.

Andrea works in content marketing, and runs Writing for Wellbeing workshops. She lives in Hertfordshire with her fiancé and their crazy cat, and can be found reading in a comfy corner or digging something at the allotment.

You may also know her from her romantic comedies written as A L Michael.

Andrea is represented by Hayley Steed at Madeleine Milburn. The Book of Us is her thirteenth book. She’s hoping it’s lucky.

Social Media Links –

Twitter @almichael_

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

Instagram @andreamichaelwrites

Review

This is a story of friendship, loss and discovery. Lauren and Cass were inseparable as teenagers but couldn’t have been more different personality wise. Lauren, or Loll, as her friend affectionately named her, was always the quiet, anxious one, whereas Cass was the one in control, the daredevil, the life and soul of the party.

Their friendship has been on hold for seven years and there are plenty of skeletons lurking in both of their closets. When they are reunited, they both have to face up to their past, knowing that Cass does not have much of a future.

The dynamic between the characters is fascinating. Lauren is bitter and holds the hurt of the past, whereas Cass seems desperate to heal wounds but at the same time cannot help but slip back into her old ways, instantly reducing Lauren to a timid teenager with her sharp words.

Cass’ young daughter Veronica, or Vee, is the glue that holds them together, even though her very existence could easily drive a further wedge between them.

The Book of Us forces the reader to question their own relationships and motives as they inevitably soul search alongside the characters. While the ‘book’ in question is a series of planned adventures Cass and Lauren wrote at the end of university, the real story is the discoveries they make about themselves on their journey.

An emotional, thought-provoking read.

With thanks to the author for my ARC.

Purchase Links

Amazon – https://amzn.to/2UOqpnW

Waterstones – https://t.co/8R8nkwzQKV?amp=1

Who’s at the Door?- J C Bratton

The premise of this book is an interesting one but it falls flat in certain areas. It’s a short novella so maybe this is why it doesn’t quite fulfil its promise.

It would certainly appeal to the YA market and has a feel of R L Stine and Christopher Pike books. There is certainly a great deal of suspense in the opening chapters of the book and the doorbell and 3.33 time element was intriguing.

The plot became a little disjointed in the second half and some of the references, such as the nod to one particular book on the detective’s shelf which later became part of the tale felt a little forced.

That said, there is enough suspense to make you want to finish the story to find out how it all links together and the cliffhanger ending when you think everything has been resolved is perfect.

Time with Norma Jeane- Elyse Douglas

Time with Norma Jeane is the perfect novel for fans of Marilyn Monroe or simply those who want to gain an insight into her life in an easy, lighthearted way.

Darla is a teenage girl who struggles to fit in. Her mother, a huge Monroe fan, passed away when she was young and Darla has maintained her mother’s interest in Norma Jeane to escape from the troubles in her life.

This is a time-travel novel but the transitions are so well written, they weave naturally into the story and don’t feel forced.

Author Elyse Douglas manages to successfully weave known facts about Marilyn’s life into the narrative, such as her sometimes volatile marriage to Joe DiMaggio, whilst also speculating as to whether her circumstances could have been different if someone had been able to intervene and change the course of her future. Monroe’s vulnerability is perfectly portrayed.

A really enjoyable read!

*Blog Tour* People Like Us- Louise Fein

I’m thrilled to be part of the blog tour on publication day for this new release by Louise Fein.

About the book:

Leipzig, 1930’s Germany.

Hetty Heinrich is a young girl growing up under Nazi rule. With an SS officer father, a brother in the Luftwaffe and a member of the BDM, Hetty is the epitome of a perfect German child.

But Walter changes everything. Blond haired, blue-eyed, perfect in every way Walter. The boy who saved her life. A Jew.

As she falls more and more in love with a man who is against all she has been taught, Hetty begins to question everything. Will the steady march of dark forces destroy their world, or can love ultimately triumph?

Perfect for fans of The Tattooist of AuschwitzThe Book Thief and Kate Furnivall.

About the author:

Louise Fein holds an MA in Creative Writing from St Mary’s University. Prior to studying for her masters, she ran a commodity consultancy business following a career in banking and law. She lives in Surrey with her family. People Like Us is inspired by her family history, and by the alarming parallels she sees between the early 30s and today.

Follow Louise:

Facebook: @LouiseFeinAuthor

Twitter: @FeinLouise

Book Review:

Set in the time preceding the second world war, this novel lends a fascinating insight into how the people of Germany became swept up in Hitler’s propaganda and fell for the ideologies of the Nazi Party.

The main protagonist Hetty is the daughter of an SS Officer and part of the BDM (The League of German Girls/ Bund Deutscher Mädel). Her brother signs up for the Luftwaffe and the family appear to be the epitome of the German ideal.

However, when Hetty finds herself falling in love with her brother’s childhood friend Walter before discovering he is Jewish, she begins to question all that she has previously been taught to believe.

This is a tale of love and heartache, of hatred and friendship and true sacrifice. Each of the characters is vividly portrayed and the essence of the time is captured perfectly. An emotional, poignant read.

Further stops along the blog tour can be found here:

Louise is also holding a virtual launch today, the details of which can be found here:

Knock on Wood- Leslie Tall Manning

This is a novel with a really quirky concept:

1978:
Fourteen-year-old Billy Baker is the first into the pond that early summer day. Ten minutes later, his lifeless body is pulled from the chilly water, his lips like two slivers of blue ice. Billy Baker dies…but only for a little while. Thirty-nine days later, he emerges from a coma.

But he is not alone.

1994:
Billy (AKA William) is turning thirty. He forgets some letters in the alphabet. He can’t set a table properly. He still believes it’s the disco era. And he can’t remember that day at the pond.

But the young boy William used to be has never left his side.

A brain-damaged hero. An unrequited love. A lottery windfall. A jealous brother. A memory hidden just below the surface…

Sharp contrasts of sunshiny music and life’s dark periphery are delicately mingled in this extraordinary tale, putting a new twist on the age-old question: Is it possible to find the way home again when one’s memory is nothing more than a blank slate?

The success of the narrative undoubtedly comes from the fact that it is told from so many points of view. While ‘Billy’ is perhaps the most fascinating, as he tries to guide William when he can see he is being manipulated, it is Cecilia who captures the reader’s imagination as she takes William under her wing with no other motive than a sense of kindness and friendship.

There are elements of darkness within the novel, not least as a result of Donald’s behaviour- not just towards his family, but the way in which he chooses to live his life. It creates a tangible sense of tension throughout as the reader wills William to see through the facade and return to the comfort and safety of his family home.

William himself is an extraordinary character. Despite his obvious disability as the result of his accident, he is an endearing, kind-hearted soul who sees the best in everyone.

This is a unique novel originally written as a stage play twenty years ago. Kudos to the author Leslie Tall Manning for translating it into such a compelling story.

Gogglebox Top 20

Before I start this post, credit must first go to @harrisonjbrock on Twitter, whose post I saw and loved so much I decided to recreate it, but obviously using my own rankings!

You can see the original post here: https://twitter.com/harrisonjbrock/status/1245006249126760448

So, here’s the premise. This is my list of Gogglebox families past and present, ranked from 20 to 1. Obviously there are more than 20 families who have made an appearance so apologies if your favourite has been missed off the list, but these are the ones who made my cut and the reasons why.

20. Bill and Josef

I have a soft spot for these two, even though their appearances are fleeting. The artwork in the background is always an interesting talking point too!

19. Stephen and Chris

Ok, so there’s a disclaimer with this selection. As much as I’m a fan of Stephen’s new husband Daniel, I feel like Stephen tries harder to be controversial in the more recent series and was more natural when he was with Chris, hence my choice. Used to love the dynamic between these two.

18. The Tappers (Jonothan, Nikki, Josh and Amy)

In fairness, this family makes the cut due to mum Nikki. Her reaction to things was often hilarious. Amy and her sulks, on the other hand, were often irritating!

17. The Woerdenwebers (Ralf, Viv, Evie and ‘silent’ Jay)

It was the talk of the series for ages…would Jay ever speak? It almost broke the internet when he finally commented while the family were watching the X Factor final in 2014. But it was Ralf’s quips and coarse language that made the family a firm favourite with viewers.

16. Linda, Pete and George

Again, the dynamic between these three was brilliant and their over-the-top reactions to what they were watching was often hysterical. That, coupled with Linda’s random quotes that left the other two baffled, means they remain a Gogglebox institution.

15. Kate and Graham Bottley

There’s an argument to say this shouldn’t have worked. As a reverend, Kate could easily have remained cautious about sharing her views but, in fact, was a breath of fresh air. The moments with their dog Buster often added extra comedy moments and the customary cup of tea became legendary.

14. Pete and Sophie

It may be a surprise to see these two so far down the list but I think they’re a bit like Marmite. They’ve got a great bond but sometimes Pete can push the boundaries too far and be slightly too judgemental for them to place any higher for me.

13. The Plummers (Tremaine, Twaine and Tristan)

I love the interactions between these three and the way they wind each other up. Their shocked reactions to things often have me laughing out loud. They are pretty easy on the eye too!

12. Amira and Amani

The reactions from these two are pure comedy gold! They have such a good rapport with each other and I love how honest they are considering their age.

11. Ellie and Izzi

I have to confess to taking a while to warm to these two. The constant ‘I know’s’ in that Leeds accent used to grate on me, but over time, I grew to find them both quite endearing and tuned into their humour to the point where their comments now often make me chuckle out loud.

10. The Moffatts ( Mark, Betty and Scarlett)

There’s a reason Scarlett Moffatt shot to fame after her Gogglebox appearances. Endearing, funny and sharp-witted, her interactions with parents Mark and Betty were often a Gogglebox highlight.

9. Mary and Marina

The best friends from Bristol have rapidly become firm Gogglebox favourites. Not afraid to discuss the controversial and often frank and open with each other where others might be too shy! Always raise a chuckle.

8. Dave and Shirley

It could well be the Welsh connection that places these two so highly but I have to confess to loving the interaction between them. They remind me somewhat of another couple yet to be mentioned in this list who have that undeniable bond that makes their relationship special.

7. Sandra and Sandy

Well, what can you say about these two? Comedy gold on a weekly basis! Their reactions and comments were often priceless and that’s before you add in the quirks like the Pot Noodle drinking vessels! Sorely missed!

6. The Malones (and Dave the dog)

Perhaps initially more talked about for their array of snacks on the coffee table each week, the Malones have become a firm favourite with viewers. Mum Julie is probably the star of the show, although canine Dave comes a close second!

5. Steph and Dom

It’s no surprise that the popularity of this couple led to further TV projects. They became renowned for liking a tipple or two during recording but it was their clear love for each other than endeared them to the nation’s hearts. Cin cin!

4. Jenny and Lee

Arguably one of the best friendships on TV! The banter between these two is second to none and there are no holds barred! The facial expressions between them at times is hysterical and they’re a pairing I look forward to seeing each week.

3. Giles and Mary

Apart from having total house envy every time they show that shot of their thatched roof, I honestly can’t speak highly enough of these two. I love how disdainful Mary is at times of Giles’ waffling and I equally adore his dry humour that knows exactly how to push her buttons to get a reaction. The perfect pairing!

2. The Siddiquis

This family provide the ultimate ‘pick-me-up’ every single week without fail! Brilliant dynamics, such dry humour and a quick wit to comment poignantly on the week’s events. Gogglebox wouldn’t be the same without them!

  1. Leon and June

It’s fair to say this couple holds a special place in the heart of any Gogglebox viewer. The love between them was evident for all to see. Leon delighted in any opportunity to embarrass June as much as she took any chance to reprimand Leon for any indiscretions (of which there were plenty!). Their presence on screen was less about their review of television than a glimpse into their life together and their obvious connection which was utterly endearing. It shook the nation when Leon passed away in December 2017 but their legacy lives on. True Gogglebox royalty and thoroughly deserving of the top spot.

I welcome your comments and would love to hear your lists!

**Cover Reveal** The Summer Island Swap- Samantha Tonge

I’m delighted to be able to reveal the cover for the latest novel from Samantha Tonge.

Sometimes the best holidays are the ones you least expect…

After a long and turbulent year, Sarah is dreaming of the five-star getaway her sister has booked them on. White sands, cocktails, massages, the Caribbean is calling to them.But the sisters turn up to tatty beaches, basic wooden shacks, a compost toilet and outdoor cold water showers. It turns out that at the last minute Amy decided a conservation project would be much more fun than a luxury resort.

So now Sarah’s battling mosquitoes, trying to stomach fish soup and praying for a swift escape. Life on a desert island though isn’t all doom and gloom. They’re at one with nature, learning about each other and making new friends. And Sarah is distracted by the dishy, yet incredibly moody, island leader she’s sure is hiding a secret.

Perfect for fans of Holly Martin, Mandy Baggot and Heidi Swain.

About the author

Samantha Tonge lives in Manchester UK with her husband and children. She studied German and French at university and has worked abroad, including a stint at Disneyland Paris. She has travelled widely.

When not writing she passes her days cycling, baking and drinking coffee. Samantha has sold many dozens of short stories to women’s magazines.

She is represented by the Darley Anderson literary agency. In 2013, she landed a publishing deal for romantic comedy fiction with HQDigital at HarperCollins. In 2015 her summer novel, Game of Scones, hit #5 in the UK Kindle chart and won the Love Stories Awards Best Romantic Ebook category. In 2018 Forgive Me Not, heralded a new direction into darker women’s fiction with publisher Canelo and in 2020 her novel Knowing You won the RNA’s Jackie Collins Romantic Thriller Award.

Pre-Order links:

Amazon: https://amzn.to/38xIJFD

Google Play: https://bit.ly/2IuyI1q

Kobo: https://bit.ly/333XuPn

iBooks: https://apple.co/39x8VS9

Publication Date: 4th June

Follow Samantha:

Website: http://samanthatonge.co.uk/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SamTongeWriter

Instagram: @samanthatongeauthor

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

Follow Aria

Website: www.ariafiction.com

Twitter: @aria_fiction

Facebook: @ariafiction

Instagram: @ariafiction

#TheSummerIslandSwap

**Blog Tour** In Five Years- Rebecca Serle

I’m delighted to be a part of the blog tour for this brilliant novel by Rebecca Serle.

Perfect for fans of Me Before You by Jojo Moyes and One Day, this heart-breaking story of love, loss and life will have you questioning everything you thought you knew about destiny… Where do you see yourself in five years?

Type-A Manhattan lawyer Dannie Kohan has been in possession of her meticulously crafted answer since she understood the question. On the day that she nails the most important job interview of her career and gets engaged to the perfect man, she’s well on her way to fulfilling her life goals.

That night Dannie falls asleep only to wake up in a different apartment with a different ring on her finger, and in the company of a very different man. The TV is on in the background, and she can just make out the date. It’s the same night –December 15th – but 2025, five years in the future.

It was just a dream, she tells herself when she wakes, but it felt so real… Determined to ignore the odd experience, she files it away in the back of her mind.

That is, until four and a half years later, when Dannie turns down a street and there, standing on the corner, is the man from her dream…

Review

The tag line for this novel by Rebecca Serle couldn’t be more apt! This is certainly not your average romance fiction; it’s hardhitting, gritty and has moments that will take your breath away.

Its depiction of the characters and their interactions is thought-provoking and harrowing at times as the reader is drawn into the complex world of the different relationships contained within the story.

The emotional and heartfelt examination of the power and depth of true friendship is one that lingers in the memory long after you finish the book. A fantastic read!

About the Author

Rebecca Serle is an author and television writer who lives between NYC and LA. Serle most recently co-developed the television adaptation of her YA series Famous In Love for Freeform and Warner Brothers Television. She is a graduate of the University of Southern California. Her bestselling US debut adult novel Dinner List was a Book of the Month club pick, Costco bookclub pick, and Bustle Bookclub selection.

An Unexpected Turn- T J Fox

Well this story truly did provide an unexpected turn! This is a unique storyline and one which has the reader gripped early on. It tells the story of Teri, a woman looking for love, whose life is one day turned upside down in a way she would never have imagined.

This is a love story but most definitely an unconventional one. It is full of conflicting emotions, heartache, healing and real, unconditional love. A must-read!