Summer reading list 2019

I don’t know about you but to me it finally feels like summer is here! As we head into June I want to share what’s on my summer reading list. This is the perfect time of the year to grab a book and enjoy the sunshine, whether that’s on holiday, in the park or just at home. I could read for hours a day if I’m in the sun (and even better with a supply of cocktails to go with it)!

Summer Reading

1. Jog on: How running saved my life by Bella Mackie

I’ve just finished reading this book for a book club I’m a member of at work and it was so honest and absolutely brilliant! Bella reveals how she used running to battle crippling anxiety and depression, without having to sacrifice her three loves: booze, cigarettes and ice cream. It’s a tale of overcoming whatever life throws at you and is sure to give you a motivational boost! I also think it’s such an important topic and message which helps to remove the stigma surrounding mental health.

A compassionate and important book which presents running as a simple but effective antidote to an anxious world.

Joe Lycett

2. Sorry Not Sorry by Sophie Ranald

I love a comedy so when I found this book which is deemed ‘the perfect laugh out loud romantic comedy’, I knew I had to add this to my list! Charlotte has always been a good girl, but being good is getting boring. So when she stumbles across a popular podcast, ‘Sorry Not Sorry’, which challenges women to embrace their inner bad girl, she jumps at the chance to shake things up.

When life gives you limes, make margaritas!

3. An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena

A Sunday Times bestseller, this is the latest novel from Shari Lapena, author of The Couple Next Door. Be prepared for a dark and dramatic thriller!

We can’t choose the strangers we meet.
Usually we can avoid the people who make us nervous, make us afraid.
Until we find ourselves in a situation we can’t escape. Trapped.

4. The Flat Share by Beth O’Leary

I came across this book in Waterstones and it sounds like the perfect rom-com for the summer, plus everyone’s raving about it! So what’s the story? Tiffy needs a cheap flat, and fast. Leon works nights and needs cash. Their friends think they’re crazy, but it’s the perfect solution: Leon occupies the one-bed flat while Tiffy’s at work in the day, and she has the run of the place the rest of the time. Given they still haven’t met, what could possibly go wrong?

5. The Death of Mrs Westaway by Ruth Ware

I absolutely love Ruth Ware’s writing so I was excited to pick this up on offer in Waitrose! Harriet Westaway receives an unexpected letter telling her she’s inherited a substantial amount from her grandmother, however her real grandparents died years ago. Will she con her way into getting the money and more importantly, will she get away with it?

An incredible story filled with utterly believable characters and brilliantly told. I absolutely adored it.

Lisa Jewell

6. If You Could Go Anywhere by Paige Toon

This book sounds like my type of story! Angie is 27 and has never really left her hometown. When her grandmother passes away, leaving her with no family, she decides to embark on her own journey of adventures and self discovery. She finds a letter from her father who she’s never met and immediately knows where her first stop is: Italy!

7. Battle Scars: A Story of War and All That Follows by Jason Fox

Last month my book club pick was First Man In by Ant Middleton which I absolutely loved and have since been recommended Battle Scars by Jason Fox! Battle Scars tells the story of his career as an elite operator, from the gunfights, hostage rescues, daring escapes and heroic endeavours, to a battle of a very different kind: the psychological devastation of combat that forced him to leave the military. Excited to read this!

There we have it, 7 books to keep you entertained whilst relaxing in the sun! Enjoy reading and let me know what you think. x

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Summer has arrived

And so the holiday season begins, my absolute favourite time of the year. Everyone’s so much happier, there’s such a feel good vibe in the air and the obligatory holiday snaps don’t go a miss. This week I’ve been sunning it up in a small town called Carvoerio, situated in the Algarve, Portugal with some friends. We stayed in a beautiful villa just a 10 minute walk from the town which was perfect for getting to the shops, restaurants and bars. We spent the first couple of days lazing by the pool, topping up our tans (or burning for some of us) eating and of course there was a bit of drinking as well.

When it hit 6pm, it was in the shower and ready to take the evening by storm. We strolled into town looking at the restaurant menus, deciding what we would like to eat – there was so much choice. Afterwards we made our way through a selection of bars including local favourites Round Up (insane karaoke nights), Carvoerio bar and Bar Six before ending up in Mungo’s most nights for a boogie.

Sadly, from Wednesday onwards the weather was cloudy with rain and thunderstorms but this wasn’t going to stop us from having fun. We decided to go for a walk along the coast which took you to a lovely little restaurant in the middle of some rocks and a cave. I wasn’t so sure about the crooked brown boardwalk but we made it there safely and the views were worth it! We had some lunch and sangria before exploring the cave and climbing on the rocks. Luckily the rain held off.

Rock Climbing

Throughout the next couple of days we rested, cooked food in the villa, drank and watched some movies. I was also trying to catch up with Game of Thrones – almost there but not quite, agh! On Thursday the sun came out in the afternoon so Callum, Alice and I decided to go into town and explore. We caught the local train which took us on a tour of the town. To be honest there wasn’t a whole lot to see besides the beach and town centre which was small but it was a lovely ride and we got to nosey at some lovely villas. We also spotted a gorgeous restaurant that we ended up in on our last night.

PortimaoNot wanting to waste our last full day in Portugal we caught the local bus to Portimao – the next nearest town. It had a lovely harbour which we walked along, following the other tourists and locals. 45 minutes later, after walking through a ferry port and down some random roads to our surprise we arrived at the beach! It was a great find. There were people playing volleyball and other sports, it was buzzing. On our walk back to the bus stop later on we took a different route in a bid to find the town (that was apparently a 5 minute walk away). We were unsuccessful this time but we still enjoyed our little adventure.

So that really sums up my week in Carvoerio. I had a great time and definitely feel refreshed and ready to seize the week ahead. It helps that we came back to 25 degree heat in England too! For more snaps check out my Instagram or FB.

Where are you going on holiday this year?

A summer in Lake Garda

265845_10150233434355547_977153_oNearly 5 years ago now I got the opportunity to work in Italy for a summer as a restaurant host in a hotel called Grand Hotel Gardone. Anyone who knows me knows that I absolutely love Italy as a country – the place, the people, the language, the food! So for me it was insane to think that this beautiful country could be my home for the summer.

It all started quite randomly – my step mum, Fiona, was doing a bit of work in Salo for an Italian company and met a few people, one of whom knew the owner of a hotel in Gardone. I sent an email to the owner and just like that they got back to me with an offer, which I wasn’t hesitant to accept!

5 years is quite a long time ago so you’re probably wondering why I’m telling you about this now. Two reasons; it was an experience that gave me a lot of amazing memories that I will never forget (and some of which I will share with you) and, I am hoping to go back to visit this year.

So just like that my summer transition from college to university went from worrying about my results and which university I was going to be accepted into, to making new friends, learning new skills and exploring a beautiful country. I was nervous when I arrived at the hotel but who wouldn’t be? I couldn’t speak any Italian and I had no idea what to expect but my welcome couldn’t have been any nicer! Barbara on the front desk knew exactly who I was and gave me a huge welcome hug. She showed me to my room before the restaurant manager collected me and my step mum for dinner on the veranda. It was great to meet some of the people I would be working with and see how the restaurant worked ready for my first day. Fiona and I went for a walk and found a nice little bar where I tried by first Aperol Spritz (it’s an acquired taste but after the first couple I became an advocate), before saying goodbye to each other for the summer.

I’m hesitant to get into too much detail about the actual job as I would prefer to share with you details of the beautiful town but it turned out to be the best experience I could’ve hoped for. After a few days I had truly settled in, made friends with the girls on reception and the waiters and chefs in the restaurant, albeit the girls had to do a bit of translating for me. We ate ice cream, drank spritz, went to parties and chilled on the veranda. It was a dream.

I worked a split shift so spent the afternoons exploring and of course sunbathing. The town of Gardone  was beautiful; relaxing but buzzing with tourists and locals at the same time which is what I love. I went for walks and explored Il Vittoriale, a stunning hillside estate overlooking the lake that oozed with character and style. The gardens were beautiful, so peaceful and there was an amphitheatre (I would love to spend my summer evenings listening to music and watching theatre here).

Another of my favourite places was La Torre di San Marco or ‘the tower’ as we called it. It is a beautiful venue with rich history and style (an amazing location for a wedding). We went there in the evenings to enjoy the music, piano playing and cocktails, rain or sunshine. Later on in the evening it turned into a club outside with a DJ and areas to sit and talk, lots of people dancing and having fun. It was just a magical place.

On our days off we would explore other places around the lake, eat lunch, drink spritzers and enjoy the sun. There’s just too much to tell you in one post so look out for more posts coming up to discover some of the great towns and villages that exist along the lake and my trip to Verona but if there is one message you take away from this post let it be that you absolutely need to visit Lake Garda at least once, one day.