It may not feel like summer this year with little chance of a foreign holiday any time soon and nothing on the social calendar, but many of us are still finding comfort in reading.

And it's a busy summer for Dorset authors who are releasing new books.

Here's our must-reads for whatever mood you're for this unforgettable summer of 2020....

From Venice with Love by Rosanna Ley

Dorset Echo:

Rosanna lives in West Bay and is known for her escapist reads. Her latest is a holiday read about family bonds and following your heart.

Dorset Echo:

From Venice with Love sees Joanna returning home to the family cottage in rural Dorset. She discovers a bundle of love letters in the attic written by a watercolourist called Emmy. Determined to discover Emmy's true story, she heads to Lisbon, Prague and Venice - where a whole new magical world seems to unfold in front of her.

Rosanna said: "The story was inspired by connections - family connections, such as the relationship between the two sisters, Joanna and Harriet, plus their relationships with their late father and their eccentric mother... but also the connection between past and present, which Joanna explores when she discovers watercolourist Emmy's letters in the attic.

"I used bridges as a literal and symbolic 'crossing point' a symbol of new beginnings and thinking about what you might have left behind. Joanna follows Emmy's original Grand Tour and so she explores the cities with bridges that Emmy painted - Venice, Prague and Lisbon. Venice is of course famous for its bridges, Prague has the historic Charles Bridge and Lisbon a Roman Aqueduct which dominates the city. I visited all these cities while I was writing and this formed the structure of the book.

Dorset Echo:

"The inspiration for Mulberry Farm Cottage (which is a fictional cottage, of course) and Warren Down was Eype Down and the small village of Eype which is a mile down the coast from where I live in West Dorset. It's a beautiful landscape which means a lot to me just as it does to Harriet. I often walk along the cliff to a 'writing spot' with a bench which looks out over Eype. This is where the purple thrift grows in springtime. Then I walk down to the beach and up along the coastal path or the Down to the bluebell wood which I situated behind Mulberry Farm Cottage. It was wonderful to be able to put all these special and personal locations in the book!"

Dorset Echo:

Rosanna says lockdown has been 'a strange time'.

"At first, I relished the slowing of pace, the tranquillity and emptiness of the landscape around me and the lack of distractions that enabled me to fully immerse myself in writing. But the challenges and the sadnesses have been immense for some, and we can't ignore that. Now that things are 'easing off' I'm glad for people who can re-open their businesses, albeit in a very different way. But there is still a lot of anxiety and we still don't know how much life has really changed."

Rosanna's favourite lockdown read: The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary. She writes: "It's well-written, sparky and funny, with sharp dialogue and bucketloads of emotion - just what you need to distract yourself from real life right now."

*From Venice With Love is published by Quercus in paperback and is also available as an ebook.

Turn to Dust by Rachel Amphlett

Dorset Echo:

Rachel, who lives near Dorchester, is acclimatising once again to the English summer after 13 years in Australia. She's the best-selling author of crime fiction and spy thrillers and has just released the latest in her Detective Kay Hunter series.

Rachel said: "As with all my books, the plot for Turn to Dust developed out of the opening scene.

"When my detectives find the body of a naked man twisted and broken in a barren field, they have no idea how he got there or suffered his injuries – and neither did I!

"At that point, I just have to follow along behind my detectives to see what happens. The best part is the witness interviews, because I really have no idea what the detectives are going to find out until they start talking.

"Once that narrative started taking over, I found myself researching modern slavery gangs, veterans associations and councils’ struggles to provide safe havens for the homeless.

"The story never gets bogged down in the detail, but it felt right to highlight such important social problems while still providing readers with a page-turning murder mystery."

Dorset Echo:

Although this is the latest in a series of novels about Detective Kay Hunter, Rachel says readers will be pleased to hear the story works well as a standalone murder mystery.

She said: "Readers have seen the whole team grow together since book 1, Scared to Death was published in 2016 but, as in real life, people have their own ambitions and so there’s a subtle shift in this story."

Reading other authors' work has been a key part of lockdown for an avid reader like herself, Rachel said.

"I’ve been spending the past few weeks in lockdown wrangling control of my ever-increasing “to be read” pile, and I think a lot of avid readers have done the same.

"I’m hopeful when we return to a new normal that more people will have discovered their local library and are using the online resources for reading eBooks and audiobooks as well as print – there’s plenty of choice available if you’re running out of books to read!"

Rachel's favourite lockdown read has been Fair Warning by Michael Connelly. She said: "This is the latest book featuring Jack McEvoy and a real page-turner."

*Turn to Dust is released on July 13 and is available in ebook, print and audiobook.

The Variety Girls by Tracy Baines

Ringwood author Tracy's first novel is a gritty and heartwarming wartime saga set in the music halls. It tells the story of Jessie Delaney, who has been forced to live with her bullying aunt after the tragic death of her father. When she's cast as one of the Variety Girls in a new show at the Empire Theatre in Cleethorpes, Jessie hopes this is the new beginning she's been longing for.

Dorset Echo:

Tracy said: "It's something uplifting and escapist to read for lockdown. People have nice memories of shows they went to see as a child.

"There's lots of books out there with 'girls' in the titles but they're about girls in the forces or in the factories. I thought I would do something different and decided to set it in Grimsby."

Much of the inspiration for The Variety Girls, which will become a series, comes from Tracy's grandmother.

"When she was about 22, her brother who was skipper of a trawler and about 25 at the time, was drowned at sea when his trawler sank. About three years later her husband was killed in the war. She used to say things to me and we'd say 'someone needs to write all these stories down. I learned to embroider the truth for writing."

Dorset Echo:

After taking writing classes given by the formerly Bridport-based author Margaret Graham, Tracy set about writing the Variety Girls series. She also drew upon her own background working summer seasons, pantomimes and everything else in between at the local end of pier show. Tracy met her husband when he was appearing with the Nolan Sisters and she was assistant stage manager.

Tracy says her garden has been the perfect place to spend lockdown in and has, like our other authors, spent much time reading. The lockdown read she would recommend is Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield: "It took me away from everything going on," she says.

*The Variety Girls is published by Ebury Press and is available from bookshops and online retailers.