Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Harper Impulse Fortnight: Emily Benet author Q&A

Hello everyone!

I'm really pleased to welcome the wonderful Emily Benet to Little Northern Soul as part of Harper Impulse Fortnight. 

Emily is the brains behind the fantastic book The Temp (which I will be reviewing later in the week) and she kindly agreed to answer some of my burning questions! 
So without further ado, here we go! 

Q) Hi Emily! Welcome to Little Northern Soul. Could you start by telling me a bit about yourself?
A) I'm a happy, healthy half Welsh, half Spanish Londoner, currently trying to sell all my possessions on eBay as in two weeks I'll be moving to Mallorca with my Colombian husband... Got all that? We've only ever been to Mallorca once, briefly, and separately, but my motto for life is, What's the worst that can happen? I've been addicted to writing since I was 11 and my first bookShop Girl Diaries began as a blog about working in my parents' lighting shop. Whenever I go into a place, I instinctively check out the lighting. Please put a shade on that bare bulb, reader. Occasionally I feel excluded from the writing community because I prefer olives over cake, beer over gin, and I don't own a cat. If I ever get some outdoor space I'd like to get some chickens... and maybe a goat.  
Q) The Temp started off being shared on Wattpad under the name 'Spray Painted Bananas and from its success you secured a publishing deal with Harper Impulse– were you expecting such a reaction to the story? 
A) The reaction to Spray Painted Bananas/ The Temp blew me away. I wrote it as a serialised novel online, so each morning I'd wake up to people asking What happens next?! and really positive comments. Wattpad is such a powerful platform and it the original draft now has over 2 million hits. The deal with Harper Impulse happened 8 months after I signed with an agent,  so I'd actually given up hope that it would  be picked up by a publisher.
Q) Where were you when you found out you had a 2-book publishing deal? 
A) I was working on a new novel in the living room. I'd come to terms with the fact I wasn't going to get  a publisher so I was trying to write something new. I saw it was my agent calling and sensed it was significant. I probably held my breath, crossed my fingers and prayed as I answered. It took a while to sink in!
Q) What does it feel like to be able to pick up a book you’ve written? 
A) It's like picking up a beautiful baby but not worrying about getting dribbled on. It feels pretty good.
Q) The Temp follows recent graduate Amber as she decides to embark on a new career as an artist. There’s loads of great description of galleries and exhibitions. Is this something you knew a lot about or did you need to do research?
A) The research had been done by the time I started. It gave me the idea for the book. I'd often find myself at gallery openings, with free wine, staring at some random object and thinking...REALLY? I could do this! Maybe I'm a philistine, but I don't think so, there's a lot of rubbish out there calling itself art. It made me think how you could probably be famous for anything if you had enough publicity.  

Q) I just have to ask... why bananas?
(FYI- Part of Ambers artwork involves painting bananas and dropping them at various landmarks around London) 
A) Because it's the funniest fruit! I associate bananas with comedy and people slipping up! Kiwi is a good word too, but I reckon it might be a little harder to get the spray paint to stick to furry skin... 
Q) There are a whole host of funny, fabulous characters in The Temp– who was your favourite and why? 
A) I had a lot of fun writing Egg, her flat mate. He is in a re-enactment group and often dressed as a Pharoah. I don't want to spoil the surprise, but let's just say he's actually quite the business man! I also loved writing the minor character, Andrzej, a Polish chef who shouts a lot. Between me and you, I don't have a clue how you're supposed to pronounce his name.
Q)The story is hilarious and silly and had me laughing out loud in parts. Do you have to think through the funny lines or do they happen naturally?  
A) The funniest lines happen out of the blue and  took me by surprise. When I burst out laughing at my computer, I know it's going to work. It's one of the best feelings in the world. My aim is to make people laugh so knowing you laughed out loud at parts makes me very happy! 
Q) Do you have any top tips for aspiring authors?
A) I think probably to stop reading all the million tips and just sit down and write. I have full-length drafts of novels that have never seen the light of the day, but which helped me become a better writer. You have to put the hours in. Write, write, write. How can you get published if you haven't finished writing a novel?  
Q) What’s your favourite way to relax? 
A) I love hanging out with my family, everyone sitting around the table together, eating good food. I also love a quiet evening curled up with a great book and a glass of red wine. In London, that happens on the sofa, but I'm hoping in Mallorca, I'll be outside lying by a pool... ah, bliss.
Q) Finally, can you tell us a little about your next book?  
A) I'm very excited about my new book. It's called #PleaseRetweet and it's about a social media guru called May Sparks, who looks after the Facebook and Twitter accounts of C- list celebrities who put their foot in it every time they go online. It's about our addiction to social media, and the contrast between our real life and what we portray online. It should be out this Summer!
Thanks very much Emily! 

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Book review: The Vintage Guide to Love & Romance by Kirsty Greenwood

"Jessica Beam is a girl who knows how to party. Only lately she's been forgetting to turn up for work on time. Or in clean clothes. Down on her luck, out of a job and homeless, Jess seeks the help of her long-lost grandmother.Things aren't going well for Matilda Beam, either. Her 1950s Good Woman guide books are out of print, her mortgage repayments are staggering and her granddaughter wears neon Wonderbras. When a lifeline from a London publisher arrives, the pair have an opportunity to secure the roof over their heads - by invigorating the Good Woman guides and transforming modern, rebellious Jess into a demure vintage lady.The true test of their make-over will be to capture the heart of notorious London playboy Leo Frost and prove that Matilda's guides still work. It's going to take commitment, nerves of steel and one seriously pointy bra to pull this off "

My Review: 

Okay, so I just finished The Vintage Guide to Love and Romance and all I really want to say is WOW. 

Buy it. BUY IT NOW.  

Boom - review done. 


Okay fine, I suppose I should say more but really, but this book is so good it's kind of rendered me a bit speechless and fumbling for the right words to say. 

Right, here we go....

'A Good Woman is always poised. She must display a calm and graceful temperament, even when her temper is raffled'Matilda Beam's Good Woman guide 1959

The Vintage Guide to Love and Romance is a truly amazing, hilarious read that I enjoyed from page 1 right until the very end. It's the kind of story that, when you finish, you're left disappointed and wondering what's going to fill the gap. (I'm still not sure!)

The story follows Jessica Beam, who spends her life partying, drinking pear cider and writing a blog with her best friend and house mate, Summer. She is just happily coasting through life with minimal aspirations, but when she makes a scene at a party and ruins a potential life-changing book deal for the blog, Summer decides she has had enough. She asks Jess to leave their flat, leaving her homeless and jobless. With no-one to turn to and nowhere to go, Jess ends up tracking down her long-lost (and super rich) Grandma in the hope that she can grab a bit of money and head off travelling. Instead, she ends up embarking on a crazy project with her Grandma that, if all goes according to plan, will result in her Grandma's old best selling novels 'The Good Women Guide' being reprinted. 

I fell in love with this story as it is unusual and different and just bloody brilliant! I love the way it mixes two eras together so cleverly, Jess is a typical modern day woman, much to the dismay of her Grandmother, who is very much stuck in the past. I loved seeing their relationship develop and how they both start influencing each other with areas of their lives (Grandma getting Facebook is a particular highlight!) 

Jessica is utterly hilarious and hands down she is now one of my favourite main characters EVER. She is just brilliant.
Brash, unashamed and funny, I immediately fell for her and long to be her mate - she'd be a riot. To be honest I kind of can see why Summer loses it with her at the start as Jess is lazy and unmotivated which would be annoying, sure, but she's so charming and sweet, not to mention hilarious, that you forgive her for her faults. She's not malicious or mean, she just doesn't think. I loved following her on her journey throughout the story and see her forming new friendships and relationships, while learning from her past to create a solid future for herself. 

Kirsty has managed to create not only a unique story, but a unique set of characters. A main character with a soft spot for pear cider and sparkly 'juicy' knickers with an uptight, set- in her-ways Grandma is a truly hilarious mixture that had me laughing out loud. Throw into the mix Peaches, Grandma's naive housekeeper who has learnt all she needs to know about friendship from popular sitcoms, much to Jess' dismay. Jess and Peaches do form a lovely, genuine friendship that made me giggle - especially when Jess introduces tequila to said friendship! Then throw into the mix Leo Wolf, the target of the 'Good Woman' project due to his rude, pompous and womanising behaviour. Jess meets him at the start of the story and it doesn't go well, so he soon becomes the target of the 'Good Woman' project as payback, with brilliant consequences. 

The Vintage Guide is a feel good, interesting and heart-warming read (I also think this book would make a great film - anyone know any directors?) The ending is perfect and I must admit I didn't guess it! The book could have gone down a number of routes and right up until the end it's not clear how it will conclude, which further adds to it not being your typical romance novel and being intriguing right up until the very last word. 

I have to say this has quickly shot up to being one of my favourite books of the year and Kirsty has rocketed to being one of my favourite authors- her writing style is unique and hilarious and made for a fantastic read. I honestly don't think I can express anymore just how good this book is. Go out, buy this book and sit and laugh your little heart out as you read it. It's a corker. 

"I like you Jessica Beam - You're very current"


Friday, 24 April 2015

Book Review: Don't Turn Around by Caroline Mitchell

You don’t know him. But he knows you.

"Soon he would be able to touch her, to feel the warmth of her blood. And when the time came, nothing would stop him. 

As D.C. Jennifer Knight investigates a routine stabbing in the quiet town of Haven, she is shocked at what seems like a personal message from beyond the grave. 
When more bodies are found, Jennifer is convinced the killings are somehow linked. What she discovers is more chilling than she could possibly imagine. The murders mirror those of the notorious Grim Reaper – from over twenty years ago. A killer her mother helped convict. 
Jennifer can no longer ignore the personal connection. Is there a copycat killer at work? Was the wrong man convicted? Or is there something more sinister at play … 
With her mother’s terrifying legacy spiraling out of control, Jennifer must look into her own dark past in a fight not only to stop a killer – but to save herself and those she loves."
A heart-stopping supernatural thriller to engross fans of Rachel Abbott, Paul Finch and James Oswald.

First of all a big thank you to Bookouture for approving me for a copy of this book through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. 

 What an absolute treat this book is - a spooky, gripping thriller that leaves you hanging on for more at the end of every chapter

Caroline's personal experiences and beliefs play a huge part of Don't Turn Around, the paranormal is a big element of the story and links to Caroline's personal experiences from a few years ago when she experienced paranormal activity in her family home. The way she incorporates the paranormal alongside a police investigation is unusual yet brilliant and adds a whole new layer to this book. I'm easily spooked and on a couple of occasions I felt the need to turn on the lamp while I was reading for comfort - this isn't one to read home alone late at night! 

The story is split into a two-person viewpoint, following DC Jennifer knight in modern day as she investigates a spate of murders in her hometown, ironically called Haven. It also jumps back in time so we see Jennifer's mother investigating a series of murders back in her time as a police woman and we are also introduced to Frank, who plays a huge part in the story for both parts. The difference in time and narrative keeps the book fast-paced and ends each chapter with you reeling for more. 

DC Jennifer Knight is a great main character, she is feisty and tough and deals with the scary nature of the crimes she investigates rather calmly and methodically - more so than I would in that situation! During the investigation we learn about her difficult past and her family life which sheds a light onto her hard-edged personality. Despite all this, you do still see her softer side. The friendship she has with Will, her colleague, is strong and heart-warming and it makes her personable, showing that she does care for people. This is also shown with her nephew Josh, despite a rather strained relationship with her sister, she makes sure she is a part of his life and does all she can to protect him. 

From the start of the story we are first introduced to the difficult and heartless upbringing Frank goes through, which plays a huge part in his later life. He is a vicious, creepy character that made me feel uncomfortable and on edge - another indication of Caroline's brilliant ability to create amazingly realistic characters! 

Some parts of this novel had me gasping out loud (I got some funny looks from the other half!) as they were so shocking. I also felt tense throughout the story, particularly in the parts where Frank was the focus. You just never know where this story is going to go next! 

Which brings me to my final point... I obviously won't ruin it by blabbing about the ending but I was SO SO shocked by a major twist at the end. Like I said above, with this story it was hard to know what was going to happen next and, more broadly, how it would end, but with most mystery novels I like to try and work out for myself how it's going to pan out, who the killer is etc etc. This is no easy feat with Don't Turn Around, just as I thought I'd worked it out something would happen to scupper my guess and I'd be left wondering all over again (this happened on a few occasions!) Hand on heart I can safely say I would never have worked out what happens at the end - there was yet another audible gasp followed by a strange look from the BF as I read the end!

This is the first of three DC Jennifer Knight stories and I already can't wait for the next! Maybe read this in a room by yourself so not to annoy others with your gasps of shock as the story unfolds (but make sure there's someone in the next room as you won't want to read it if you're completely on your own!) 

A brilliantly written, spooky mystery that made my toes curl - make sure you get this! 


Thursday, 23 April 2015

Blog Tour: Learn to Love Again, Ellen Faith

"Living in a small seaside village can have its perks, but after the death of her husband, Lillie Gilbert finds the people she grew up with turning against her faster than the tide rolls out.As she grieves for the life they planned, the life they’ll never live, she leans on her best friend for support and tries to come to terms with the fact that one day, she may have to open up her heart to a new life and new love.

After losing her childhood sweetheart, can Lillie really learn to love again?"

First of all I want to say a big thank you to Tay at Chicks That Read for organising the blog tour for this wonderful book! 

My review 

I really, really enjoyed this novel. Ellen Faith is a brilliant writer- it’s an engaging and all-encompassing story that sucks you in to their world.

Learn to Love again is an emotional story that goes through all the different stages of grief. Lillie is grieving after the sudden death of her husband, Nick. She lives in a small seaside town, where everyone knows everyone - including what she is going through. Some even blame her for his death. Her and Nick's best Friend Sam returns to the town from America, to look after her and help her through the grief. 

The detail Ellen goes to describe Lillie's heartbreak is intricate and very personal. I really felt for her throughout as you follow her on a journey of loss, grief and acceptance and you can really see how much pain she is in. There are some lovely flashbacks throughout which give you a glimpse into the past and their marriage, and show just how happy they were. It also shows you the history of Nick and Sams friendship, which really explains why he would be so determined to make her feel better and support her through such a difficult time. The story builds you up to really see why the loss of Nick would be so devisating, he is a wonderful character that was a big part of both their lives. 

The description of the location throughout Learn to Love Again is fantastic. Straightaway I was transported to the small seaside town and immersed in the small village that is such a big part of Lillie's life.

There are a wide range of different characters in the story which keeps it really interesting. My favourite characters in the story were Lillie's parents, they are both so different from each other – her dad is quiet, yet supportive and protective of her and her mum is slightly overbearing with a constant need to be in charge, which is her way of dealing with her daughter’s heartbreak and her own grief. They both do all they can to support her through a difficult time and are just a genuinely lovely couple.  Sam is also a wonderful character, he genuinely cares for Lillie and is a fantastic beacon of support to her at a moment in need. 

The book is quite short and I was surprised when I reached the end so quickly.  It isn't rushed at all, but it just seems shorter than your standard novel. It didn't need to be any longer as it’s a solid, engaging story – I was just sad when I got to the end! (but I would have been no matter what the page length!)

This is a great book that I would recommend highly. It explores friendship, loss and grief in an engaging and beautiful way that I really enjoyed. Ellen Faith is now firmly on my radar, and I can’t wait to see what she has in store for us in the future. 

About The Author
Ellen lives in the wonderful county of Yorkshire, England where she spends most of her time baking, eating, baking, and eating. Occasionally she does leave the house to go to the cinema or do some food shopping though. 

After spending years with an overactive imagination, she decided to put all the magic in her head to some good use and put finger to laptop where The Story of Us was born and became her debut novel. She loves to travel, her favourite destinations so far have all been in America, hence the love of all things, and all people, American. The food rocks pretty hard too, she ate until her jeans begged her to stop whilst she was there. True fact. Aside from daydreaming and eating, Ellen is a sucker for a lolcat, penguins and monkeys - she has never claimed to be normal. 

Author Links


Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Book review: The Lie by C.L. Taylor

"I know your name’s not really Jane Hughes . . .Jane Hughes has a loving partner, a job in an animal sanctuary and a tiny cottage in rural Wales. She’s happier than she’s ever been but her life is a lie. Jane Hughes does not really exist.Five years earlier Jane and her then best friends went on holiday but what should have been the trip of a lifetime rapidly descended into a nightmare that claimed the lives of two of the women."


The Lie is a fascinating book that I enjoyed from cover to cover -  it is a thrilling, creepy read that is one of a kindI haven't read anything similar to this before which made it exciting and unusual for me.
The story focuses on Jane and is narrated in two time frames - one five years ago on a girl's holiday with her friends and one in the present day, as she tries to form a new, quiet life, after the 'holiday of a lifetime' with her friends AJ, Leanne and Rosie ended badly. Very badly. I don't want to spoil anything about this book but lets just say the luxury, relaxing resort they stay at turns out to be anything but. 

I didn't quite know what to expect from the title or even the blurb, but the story is very immersive. A really interesting element to this story is the exploration of friendships - it doesn't cover your usual 'best friends' dynamic, there are clear alliances and differences between the friendship group that creates an uneasy atmosphere, especially on holiday. I felt this actually  provided a refreshing realistic view on real life relationships and I think most people reading this (myself included) are likely to identify with this section of the story. I don't for one second think any friendship group is perfect and usually there will be personality clashes or a fight for attention. Cally expertly brings these everyday and normal, yet unspoken, issues out in her characters and it was a actually a welcome change for the group not to be making friendship bracelets and exclaiming their love for one another but actually dealing with bitchiness and disagreements. 

There isn't a whole lot of character background covered in The Lie, it only really delves into the unsteady friendship between the girls and you don't hear a whole lot about the main characters families or other relationships they have (just a brief mention about Jane's overbearing mother and 3 amazing, can-do-no-wrong siblings). The point i'm making here is you don't NEED this other information- the story is descriptive and intricate enough without this and carries itself in a thrilling roller coaster of a novel.

If I'm being completely honest in the past sections of the story 'Jane' could be a bit whiny at times but, really, I get WHY she's like that which made it less irritating. Crap job, crap 'friends', crap love life - you would be miffed. She's not your typical heroine and that's another reason I found this a refreshing read- she's realistic and interesting and I really rooted for her the whole way through, hoping she'd get home from their holiday okay and be able to move on with her life. I also enjoyed the current time-frame of the story as it provides a snapshot as to what her life is like now and how she is dealing (or not dealing) with the past. 

This is a gripping, unique read that I devoured in one sitting. It is fast-paced and every chapter seems to end with another hook, making it impossible to put down. There's no time for a loo break or to empty the dishwasher (what a shame!)- read this when you have some spare time on your hands and don't need to move! It's a fantastic story that delves into friendship, grief and shock in a unique and clever way and I thoroughly enjoyed it. 

A BIG thank you to the publishers for allowing me to have a copy of this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

The Lie is out tomorrow (April 23rd) you can buy it here (and I'd strongly recommend you do!) 

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: All Time Favourite Authors

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature over at The Broke and the Bookish. I love writing and reading lists so thought I'd give this weeks a go!

This weeks topic is 'Top Ten ALL TIME Favourite Authors', which was a bit of a challenge! There's so many fabulous authors out there it was hard to whittle it down to just ten. I based it on the authors that I buy no matter what they release - as soon as one of their books come out I know I'll buy them (and enjoy them). These aren't listed in a particular order, I enjoy them all equally.

So without further ado, below are my Top Ten Favourite Authors... 

I think this list will become even more difficult as time goes on. Since starting Little Northern Soul I've been introduced to authors who I hadn't read before and also a whole host of debut authors that are absolutely brilliant and I just know will be making it onto the above list. Some of the other authors I love are- Angela Marsons, Lucy Robinson, Caroline Mitchell, Kate Winter, Samantha Tonge & Cathy Bramley (to name a few!) 

Who are your Top 10 favourite authors? 

Why not let me know in the comments below :) 

Monday, 20 April 2015

Book Review: Game of Scones by Samantha Tonge

A deliciously summery read you won't want to miss!

"A story of icing and flour…and how love doesn’t always go to plan!

Growing up, Pippa Pattinson’s summers were spent in the idyllic Greek island fishing village of Taxos. There she spent many long hazy days determinedly ignoring thoughts of the life her parents had mapped out for her (a dreary-but-secure accounting job and obligatory sensible husband!) Instead she daydreamed of running her own tea shop – serving the perfect scones – with mocha-eyed childhood friend Niklaus by her side…

Arriving back in Taxos for the first time in years, with suave boyfriend Henrik, Pippa barely recognises the tired little town – but is relieved to catch glimpses of the quaint, charming village she’s always loved. Together Niklaus and Pippa put together a proposal to save Taxos from tourist-tastic ruin, and at the heart of their plan is Pippa’s dream project: The Tastiest Little Tea Shop in Taxos. It’s time for Pippa to leave her London life behind and dust off her scone recipe that’s guaranteed to win over both locals and visitors. And amidst the rolling pins and raisins, it seems romance is blossoming where she’s least expecting it…"

My review: 

Firstly, a very happy publication day to Samantha for this fab book! It is a summary, addictive read that transports you to a Greek seaside village you won't want to return from!

The book follows Pippa, who returns to the Greek village Taxos with her 'dutch titan boyfriend' Henrik. Taxos holds plenty of childhood memories and relationships for Pippa and is somewhere she feels passionate about. The reappearance of her childhood friend Niko casts further doubt onto her already unsure feelings for Henrik. The doubts are further heightened when Henrik's company, ThinkBig, come up with some unappealing ways to make Taxos a tourist resort as it needs an economic boost - people are struggling for work and money but the proposals make it commercial and take the heart out of Taxos. The village, led by Pippa, fight the proposals which further deepens Pippa's love for the greek village and its residents.

Pippa is a great main character. Being honest, she's pretty flawed and there's times where I felt like screaming MAKE UP YOUR MIND! when she's debating about whether to be with Henrik or not. But, as a reader, you get it. You can understand why she is torn with her feelings. Henrik isn't a bad man, he may make some silly decisions during the story, but he isn't bad. It's also clear that he loves Pippa in his own way. It might not be fireworks and flowers but, for him, it's love, and I think that's what Pippa struggles to deal with. However, it's pretty obvious that deep down she doesn't want to be with him and on occasion I just wished she'd get on with it and end it.

There are some other fantastic characters in Game of Scones. Grandma is a pillar of village life and, despite being very ill, is still feisty and opinionated. Leila, Niko's fiancee is a dreamer - flamboyant and unusual in a charming, friendly way. Finally there's Niko, who captures Pippa's heart once again. He is kind, hardworking and, on occasion, grumpy (which is explained at the end of the story). They are all yet another reason to fall in love with Taxos.

Which brings me nicely to the location of this book, which is just brilliant. Taxos is a small community in Greece that you are immediately transported into. You can smell the sea breeze, feel the sand between your toes and the sun shining on your skin. There's a great sense of community, everyone works together to do the best for Taxos and there are strong bonds of friendship, and romance, throughout the village.

Obviously I've got to talk about Scones as they play a large part of this story. Firstly, who knew there were so many potential flavours of this delicious treat?! When I started reading Game of Scones I must admit I was cynical, thinking the constant eating of currant scones with cream and jam could be a bit repetitive. How wrong was I! Fig and walnut, lemon and yogurt and roast pepper and feta are just some of the delightful flavours that Pippa makes to share with the residents of Taxos. My mouth was positively watering at some of the delicious variations she makes!

Game of Scones is the perfect summer read- sunny, addictive and romantic- I would recommend it to anyone. Samantha is a funny, talented writer that makes the words jump off the page and pull you in. 

If you missed it before, I did an author Q&A with Samantha that talks about Game of Scones and her writing experience, why not have a look?

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Author Interview: Samantha Tonge

 I'm so excited to welcome the wonderful Samantha Tonge to Little Northern Soul! Samantha is the genius behind best-sellers Doubting Abbey and Mistletoe Mansion and her latest book, Game of Scones is released on Monday. Prior to the release of Game of Scones Samantha kindly agreed to answer some questions about her latest book and her writing career so far. So grab a cuppa, sit back and enjoy!  

Q) Welcome to Little Northern Soul Samantha! Game of Scones is set in Taxos, a small village in Greece. Why did you choose this setting?
A) Because for me, a quaint fishing village on a Greek island is the perfect romantic setting – shortbread coloured sands, a slight breeze, sultry sunsets, cosy tavenas... And, of course, hot, musclebound fishermen... What more could you want?!
Q) This book includes lots of delicious scones, as well as some other wonderful-sounding foods. Are you a foodie? Where did you get the ideas for the alternative scone recipes?
A) I am an absolute foodie. My mother used to bake amazing puddings and bring home recipes from her midday supervisor job. I did GCSE cookery and loved baking with my own children when they were small. The alternative recipes came from my imagination mostly. I just thought of what was grown and eaten locally in Greece.
Q) Pippa is a great, realistic main character. She is conflicted in her emotions and relationship with Henrik. She has her flaws but despite this, she is relatable and interesting. Did you enjoy writing Pippa?
A) I LOVED writing Pippa. I think her problems are very relatable – a lot of us have to choose between our head and hearts, especially when it comes to the big stuff like choosing a career. We all get caught up in the hamster wheel of trying to earn more and improve our lifestyles... How refreshing it would be just to give all that up and move to somewhere like Taxos for the simple life. A holiday there reminds Pippa of all the childhood breaks she spent in Greece and an inner conflict looms...
Q) Who's your favourite character in the book and why? 
A) Urgh, that is a very hard question as I love Pippa, Henrik and Niko the three main characters, mainly because they are very appealing yet all face an inner battle and have flaws.  I think Pippa wins, though. I’d like her as a best friend. Her heart is in the right place, she is a loyal friend... And, of course, she bakes great scones!
Q) Are you team Niko or team Henrik? 
A) Ooh, ooh, another hard question!  I tip towards Henrik because I understand his motivations and admire his tenacity. Also I based him on a Dutch flight attendant I met last year, who is a very lovely man! Um, but Niko has an huge dollop of integrity and a touch of the dangerous and I like that. I can’t choose!
Q) Your debut novel Doubting Abbey was a best-seller and was shortlisted for the Best Ebook award by Festival of Romantic Fiction - were you expecting such a big hit with your debut?
A) No, I was astounded and thrilled. Of course, I always dream about awards and Hollywood deals but never actually think it is going to happen. To be shortlisted meant such a lot, after years of trying to get a novel deal.
Q) What spurred you on to start your writing, and publishing, journey? 
A) It sounds corny, but I always knew I would write. Life got busy with university, work and marriage. The opportunity arose when my youngest started school.

Q) You always get fantastic feedback on your books - and I can see why! Have there been any stand-out comments for you? 

A) Thank you! The stand-out comments are where people hint that they’ve had a bad day and needed cheering up, and that that my book did that for them. This means everything to me and is one reason I love writing chick lit.
Q) Are there any big highlights in your writing career so far?
A) The award shortlisting and reaching #1 in the AmazonUK romantic comedy category with Doubting Abbey and Mistletoe Mansion. There was a rather exciting moment when a film director contacted me to read Doubting Abbey. It came to nothing but I’ll never forget dancing around my bedroom – um, to the embarrassment of my children!
Q) Do you have any 'top tips' for other aspiring authors? 
A) Don’t give up, keep going, however despondent you sometimes feel. And don’t write in a vacuum  - interact with other writers online and join writing groups.
Q) Foreign destinations clearly play a big part of your personal and writing life, what's your favourite holiday location? 
I recently went to Japan and would move there tomorrow if I could. No crime, no litter or graffiti, exceptionally pleasant and polite people and amazing sights to visit.  Oh, and heated toilet seats!
Q) Describe your perfect relaxing day off
A) Spending it out and about with the family – perhaps a walk in the Peak District, or a shopping trip, followed by lunch. I’m not fussy, as long as we are together.
Q) Have you planned your next novel? Anything you can let us know about? 
A) I am currently writing my Christmas novel. It has an absolutely bonkers storyline that, fortunately,  my editor has approved!

Well I can't wait for that - the more bonkers, the better! Thanks for stopping by Samantha! 

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Friday, 17 April 2015

Gingerbread Cafe Trilogy Boxset Tour!

Enjoy the warmth, cupcakes and hot chocolate of The Gingerbread Café series, and follow Lil’s journey to happily ever after…
Lil has every recipe down, from gingerbread men to cinnamon muffins. So when gorgeous outsider Damon opens a shop opposite The Gingerbread Café, Lil refuses to let him steal her customers without a fight – no matter how much he makes her heart flutter.
When it comes to love, Lil’s never quite got the method right! But it looks like this time, deviating from the recipe might just lead Lil to the magic ingredient she’s been missing all along…
Don’t miss this delicious series from best-selling author Rebecca Raisin – the ultimate romantic indulgence.

Book One - Christmas At The Gingerbread Cafe
The icing on her Christmas cake! 

Christmas is the season the Gingerbread Café in Ashford, Connecticut was made for…but owner Lily couldn’t be feeling less merry if she tried. She’s spent another year dreaming of being whisked away on a sleigh-ride for two, but she’s facing festive season alone – again. And, just to give her another reason to feel anything other than candy-cane perky, a new shop across the road has opened… Not only is it selling baked goods, but the owner, with his seriously charming smile, has every girl in town swooning. 

But Lily isn’t about to let her business crumble — the Gingerbread Café is the heart of the community, and she’s going to fight for it! This could be the Christmas that maybe, just maybe, all her dreams – even the someone-to-decorate-the-Christmas-tree-with ones – really do come true!

Book Two - Chocolate Dreams At The Gingerbread Cafe
Chocolate…the most irresistible temptation?

The Gingerbread Café is all a buzz! This Easter, Lily and the rest of the town of Ashford, Connecticut are planning a truly decadent Chocolate Festival. Cooking up a storm, CeeCee and Lily are not just baking a batch of their sinfully delicious chocolate-dipped gingerbread men, but an excess of chocolate truffles, squidgy, cinnamony hot cross buns and melt in your mouth chocolate eggs. The Gingerbread Café staff have definitely enjoyed the tasting process!
Add in Damon’s cute-as-a-button seven year old daughter, Charlie, up for a visit and Lily’s perfect Easter may just be around the corner. Until her ex-husband Joel turns up demanding twenty thousand dollars… Suddenly the future of the Gingerbread Café is not so clear…and Lily finds herself eating far more of The Gingerbread Café’s treats than her skinny jeans allow…
Can Lily concoct a brilliant plan to save her beloved café, convince Damon she has no feelings for Joel and still throw a Chocolate Festival the town will be talking about for years? There’s only one way to find out...Welcome back to the warmth, cupcakes and hot chocolate of The Gingerbread Café – your home away from home
Book Three - Christmas Wedding At The Gingerbread CafeYou are invited to the wedding of the year!
Snow is falling thick and fast outside the Gingerbread Café and inside, its owner Lily is planning the wedding of the year. Her wedding! She never dreamt it would happen, but this Christmas, she’ll be marrying the man of her dreams - in a Christmas-card-perfect ceremony!
The gingerbread is baking, the dress is fitted and the mistletoe’s in place – for once, everything’s going to plan. That is until her mother-in-law arrives... Suddenly, Lily’s famous cool is being tested like never before and her dream wedding is crumbling before her eyes.
In the blink of a fairylight, the Gingerbread Café has been thrown into chaos! Lily thought she had this wedding wrapped up, but with so much to do before she says ‘I do’, can Lily get to the church on time – and make this Christmas sparkle after all?
My thoughts: 
This is a series not to be missed, Rebecca's writing is fantastic - fast paced, witty and engrossing, once you pick up book one, you won't want to stop until you finish book 3.
I love the seasonal themes throughout the series, focusing on Christmas and Easter. Reading books one and three made me want to reach for a glass of baileys pronto! 
Rebecca is great at setting a scene and her locations jump of the page, which is one of the highlights for me of the series - I want to go to Ashford so badly! The detail is immaculate and you can tell how much thought has gone into mapping out the brilliant setting for these books. 
The characters in this series are great, Lily is a strong, hard working main character who does all she can for the Cafe. She is relatable and down-to-earth, the best kind of main character. I love her friendship with CeeCee and the close bond they share, it made an already sweet series even more heartwarming! 
If you haven't already, do pick up this series as it's brilliant and one you're sure to fall in love with!  
About The Author  

Rebecca Raisin is a true bibliophile. This love of books morphed into the desire to write them. She's been widely published in short story anthologies, and in fiction magazines. And now she is focusing on writing romance. Rebecca aims to write characters you can see yourself being friends with. People with big hearts who care about relationships and believe in true love.