An Italian Summer by Fanny Blake (Blog Tour)

An Italian Summer by Fanny Blake

 

39910277Publisher: Orion

Publishing Date: 26th July 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 352

Genre: General Fiction, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

A compelling novel about friendship, family secrets and second chances, set against the backdrop of southern Italy.

Sandy is in her fifties, and at a crossroads in her life: she’s a teacher and respected by her pupils, but she feels she is being sidelined in favour of younger colleagues. So when her mother dies, leaving her a sealed envelope addressed to an unknown woman living in Naples, Sandy decides to head to Italy to resolve the mystery by delivering the letter herself.

She books herself on to a small sightseeing trip from Rome to Naples and the Amalfi Coast, hoping to meet some like-minded people along the way. Who is the mysterious woman she is searching for? And will Sandy find friendship, or even love, along the way…?

 

My Review

When Sandy’s mother dies, she leaves her daughter a letter addressed to Anna in Naples, asking Sandy to find her. Sandy wants to fulfil her mother’s last wish and sets off on a group – holiday in Italy. She doesn’t know who’s going to be in her group but never in her life does she expect with this particular guest…Travelling in Rome and Naples, she makes friends and enemies with her fellow travellers. Through her mother’s journal we get to know Sandy’s mother story which is really captivating. Will Sandy be able to find Anna? And if so, is it going to open a Pandora Box…? 

In this book the author takes us on a journey to Rome and Naples. It is crystal clear that she has done her research – the descriptions of the places, listed buildings, relics, bars and piazzas are so incredibly detailed that it wouldn’t be impossible to write about them in such way without seeing them with your own eyes. While I truly appreciated that Fanny Blake wanted to bring the beauty of the places to us, I must admit that I started to skim reading through the descriptions as they were simply too long and I just longed to eventually get to the point, to have the plot and the main story back. Because the idea of this story was intriguing, it’s the development that was a problem – at least, my problem. 

There were also many characters introduced to us in this book, and while I didn’t have problems with sorting them, with immediately seeing who belongs to whom, I spent most of the reading time wondering if they’re really so significant to the plot. However, what was really great to observe, was the brilliantly captured group dynamics, the interactions between adult people, the way they were coping. It was just like in real life, where a group of people meet the secrets, lies and small plays are pre – programmed, and the author has really an eye for such things. It was sharp observed and rang a bell, was true to life and realistic and I really enjoyed this part of the story. Please don’t get me wrong, it was lovely to learn about their experiences, to see Italy through their so very different eyes, but I only wanted to read more about the main idea. However, Fanny Blake can for sure create some truly interesting and complex characters, they all had their problems, they all had some skeletons in the cupboards and they were all truly well developed. They were not all likeable, oh no, just like it is with a group of people, and while Sandy could have had more backbone for my liking, she was a great leading character. She was strong and independent and life experienced.  Some of the others I mostly wanted to slap, to be honest, or to bang their heads together, their actions were sometimes so childish but again – this is the way people behave and hats off to Fanny Blake for being able to bring her observations so easily and effortlessly to the pages. 

I was missing some more twists and turns – I mean, there were many of them but there was a space for two or three really big ones, such that you didn’t see coming. It took so much time to reach the conclusion and, to be honest, I guessed the outcome, so some bumps on the way would be a great idea.

“An Italian Summer” was full of secrets, lies and rivalry novel, filled with sunshine and lovely Italian food and captivating storytelling. It was a warm story, bringing friendship and family to us. It was complex and clever and the mystery was truly interesting and I only wanted to turn the pages to see how it’s going to end – all of the subplots. It’s a great summer read, even if you’re not travelling to Italy, though with all the descriptions it’ll be for sure a bonus! Recommended!

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One in a Million by Lindsey Kelk (Blog Tour)

One in a Million by Lindsey Kelk

 

35562950Publisher: Harper

Publishing Date: 26th July 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 416

Genre: General Fiction, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

‘A corker…hilarious!’ Giovanna Fletcher
‘Full of heart and very, very funny’ Paige Toon

Everyone wants that special someone….

Annie Higgins has given up on love: she’s too busy trying to get her own business off the ground. Infuriated by the advertising agency across the hall making fun of her job, Annie accepts their crazy challenge – to make a random stranger Instagram-famous in just 30 days.

And even when they choose Dr Samuel Page PhD, historian and hater of social media, as her target, Annie’s determined to win the bet – whether Sam likes it or not.

But getting to know Sam means getting to know more about herself. And before the 30 days are out, Annie has to make a decision about what’s really important…

Funny, real and heart-meltingly romantic, Annie and Sam’s story is My Fair Lady for the social media age – and the perfect summer read.

Rating: five-stars

 

In “One in a Million” we meet Annie Higgins who has just betted to turn a very social media unfriendly person into an Instagram influencer. The man in question, Dr Samuel Page, doesn’t know his luck yet and Annie must turn this innocent nerd into an über – cool – nerd with twenty thousand followers in only thirty days. Samuel is absolutely not interested but when Annie learns that his girlfriend has recently dumped him for being only interested in his research work, being emotionally absent, for having a bad dress sense and for being not groomed enough, she senses her chance and “Boyfriend Bootcamp” is brought to life. She’s going to change him into the man his ex wants him to be and in exchange for her tips he agrees for her to make him exist in social media. Will she manage to turn this totally unknown unfriendly historian into Instagram star?

I’ve never been so much into social media, I mean, I do have my Facebook (sorry, Annie, yes, I’m old enough), and I know my Twitter but this followers fights on Instagram somehow passed me by, however I was totally intrigued what you can do to gain those followers – especially when you’re as reluctant as the person that Annie was supposed to turn into Instagram influencer. I am not the person that can’t take her eyes off her phone so Annie was a little exotic to me but I, of course, can also understand her way of keeping on with her emails, messages and likes, it was her job at last.

Annie was immediately likeable. She was funny and had some of the best one – liners, she was quirky and extremely good at her job. I loved Annie’s passion, the way she mad me feel about her – she made me laugh but I also wanted to bang her head sometimes, and this is the sign of a really great, realistic character.
Dr Samuel Page (not Sam!) was one of the most brilliant characters ever. Not only seeing him coming out of his shell was a real joy, seeing him as he is was refreshing and only imagining his face at some of the changes made me laugh out loud. This reluctance of his, it was so perfectly well captured and described and I felt so, so sorry for him. I only think that I would love to hear his point of view as well, not only Annie’s – I know, we know he’s reluctant and not so keen on this whole idea but it would be great to hear direct from him.
The banter between the characters was so enjoyable and it felt so genuine and natural. What I also liked was the fact that there could be one or two or more potential affair contenders, which made the reading not so obvious, however then it came to such a point when I couldn’t imagine Annie with any other character than THIS ONE. But of course life is not a picnic and the way to happy ending is always a bumpy road and there is never a guarantee that it’s going to be a happy end, right.

The pace of this story was only right, it was not too quick and not too slow and there were amusing events aplenty. It was fabulously enjoyable, with enough drama and romance, laughter and seriousness. The romance part was truly genuine and not too forced on the characters, and it was brilliantly balanced with their lives, careers and likes. Even if the story covers only one month, this love affair doesn’t feel too rushed or too artificial and I found myself totally absorbed in it. And it’s not only a laugh – out – loud book. I really liked how cleverly and seamlessly those subtle references to gender politics in business, in running your own company and also those random historical facts were built into this story.
Altogether, “One in a Million” was brilliantly light – hearted and spot on, it was full of hilarious situations and this trademark Lindsey Kelk’s humour and incredibly warm characters – this author is really a queen of creating unforgettable characters that you can’t help but root for. And of course there is also the hidden message about social media as well! Highly recommended!

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