Friday, 15 June 2018

INTERVIEW with Cecilia Vinesse - author of THE SUMMER OF US

Hi Everyone, earlier this week I posted my review of what I think to the summer read of 2018, The Summer of Us by Cecilia Vinesse. Today I'm so excited to interview Cecilia, I had such fun with this interview and her answers crack me up. She's so bubbly and adventurous you can tell that through her writing and this interview.

The Summer Of Us released yesterday and I urge you to pick it up. Here's a little more about the book...

Aubrey and Rae have been planning their trip around Europe practically from the moment they became BFFs in primary school. And, now, it ought to be the perfect way to spend their last summer together before university.

But things are more complicated at eighteen than they were at ten. There's Jonah, Aubrey's seemingly perfect boyfriend, and his best friend Gabe, the boy Aubrey may have accidentally kissed. And there's Clara, the friend Rae is crushing on, hard, even though there's no hope because Clara is definitely into guys, not girls.

Five friends. Ten days. Paris, Amsterdam, Prague, Florence, Barcelona. And a messy, complicated, can-this-really-be happening love story, or two ... because how could there not be?

Hi Cecilia, thank you so much for being on my blog today. I absolutely loved your book if you haven’t already guessed from the tweets and I had to ask you so questions about it.

What was your inspiration behind The Summer Of Us?

HI Emma! I’m so delighted to be here. Thanks very much for having me, and thank you for all your lovely words about The Summer of Us. They really mean a lot to me.

As for this book, when I first started thinking about it, the only thing I knew for sure was that I wanted to write about friendship. Not just about two best friends (although definitely that, too!) but about a friend group and all the ways that different relationships within that group overlap. I decided to put them on an interrailing trip because I don’t think anything tests a friendship quite like traveling together! And I also love writing about places, so I was being a little sneaky and making lots of opportunities for me to write about different cities that I love. Once I had those elements together, the characters and their worlds started presenting themselves to me slowly—very, very slowly! But I think a lot of this book was about me taking separate elements of different things I wanted to write, putting them in one place, and seeing what happened.

What’s your favourite European country you’ve visited? And which one was your favourite to write about in The Summer of Us?

Ooooh, such a difficult question. I have a soft spot for Paris, because it has a grand, romantic feel to it, but it’s also quirky and cozy, which is such a lovely combination. And the pastries! I can never resist pastries, and why on earth would I want to?! I think my favorite city to write about might have been Prague. There was something hushed and fairytale-like about that city, and it felt like such a gift to be able to lose myself in that feeling while writing.

One thing I have to ask, why did Aubrey take Chamber of Secrets when she was packing for Columbia? (Ha-ha. I don’t know why I picked up on this but of all the HP books Aubrey picks the second?)

Ha! I love this! I love that you picked up on it. I guess it’s almost an inside joke with myself, which has to be the most niche form of inside joke, right? I moved around a lot growing up and the Chamber of Secrets was my favorite Harry Potter book, so I used to read it over and over again when I first moved somewhere new. I guess that book was almost like a safety blanket for me and I wanted to pass that safety blanket on to Aubrey. As for why the Chamber of Secrets was my personal favorite? Hmmm. I’m not sure. Maybe I just wanted a pet Basilisk.

Which character perspective did you enjoy writing more, Rae or Aubrey?

Aubrey is much more like me than Rae. Aubrey and I are both anxious over-thinkers, and we both struggle to move on from people and places we love. Rae is much more free-spirited—or at least, she tries to appear that way. Both their perspectives presented their own challenges. I’d sometimes catch myself getting a little too close to Aubrey. For example, if I was in a bad mood when I sat down to write, Aubrey would end up being in a bad mood, too. And Rae was difficult, because I shared fewer qualities with her. Although, in other ways, that did make her quite fun, because her perspective was almost like an escape for me. I think ultimately they both balanced each other well. And I mean, obviously I love both my children equally! ๐Ÿ˜‚

Aubrey read The Waves in the book, what’s the story behind it and would you recommend it?

The Waves is a novel by Virginia Woolf that I read in university and it really stuck with me for years afterward. It’s told from six perspectives about a group of friends who meet while in school. I was re-reading it late at night while drafting The Summer of Us as a break from thinking about my own writing, and it struck me that this book is so much about the space between being in school and then leaving to become the person you’re going to be. I think that’s why it resonated with me so much in university, and it was resonating with me again as I was working on these characters who are in a similar time of life and facing similar questions. I would absolutely recommend it, although it’s deliberately quite difficult to comprehend because Woolf often doesn’t even draw boundaries between the different perspectives! Honestly, I’ve read it a few times now, and I still struggle with it. But if you’re willing to put up with that, I really think it’s worth it.

What is your next adventure? Both in real-life and your next writing adventure?

I’m going to travel around Scotland for a little while this summer, which I’m really looking forward to, because I lived in St Andrews for a few years, but I didn’t do much exploring in Scotland itself while I was there. As for writing, I’m playing with a lot of different ideas right now, which feels adventurous because nothing is as terrifying as a blank page if you ask me!

For someone like me who hasn’t been abroad before where would recommend I’d go first?

I’d say pick somewhere that already has some meaning to you—maybe a book or a movie you love is set there, or there’s a particular food or restaurant you want to try, or a museum you’ve always wanted to visit. The trips that have meant the most to me are the ones where I feel like I’m going to seek out some small connection I know already have to a place, even if I’ve never been there before. It can also make somewhere new feel a little less intimidating when I know I’m there to search for something in particular.

What would be your advice to those who are leaving college to start a new path in their life?

Please, please don’t feel discouraged if you have moments or days when it feels awful or overwhelming. I had so, so many of those moments when I started college, and one thing that helped me was remembering that this was just one moment. It didn’t define my whole experience. Homesickness and uncertainty really do pass, and you’ll be amazed by how quickly and sneakily a new place can start to feel—at least a little bit—like home. Also, make sure to create space for things that make you feel like you. Phone your best friend, read your favorite book, plug in your headphones and get lost in a Netflix show. It’s so important to take breaks and check in with yourself while you’re adjusting to someplace new.
Thank you so much Cecilia, this was so much fun and thank you for coming on my  blog today.

Thursday, 14 June 2018


Hi Everyone, this week continues with another amazing book from publisher Team BKMRK and I'm so excited to be part of the Rebecca Sky's debut novel blog tour for ARROWHEART! 

I'm almost finished the book and it is riveting and a brilliant plot line so far. It really brings out some strong emotions though. I will have a lot to say about this book when I finished. All good things though so don't worry about that.

Rebecca is on my blog to share with you how her brother helped her find her passion. (Warning it contains, siblings painting them LED green.) But before that here is a little more about her debut novel.

Kiss the boys and make them cry...

The gods are gone.

The people have forgotten them.

But sixteen-year-old Rachel Patel can't forget - the gods control her life, or more specifically, her love life.

Being a Hedoness, one of a strong group of women descended from Greek God Eros, makes true love impossible for Rachel. She wields the power of that magical golden arrow, and with it, the promise to take the will of any boy she kisses. But the last thing Rachel wants is to force someone to love her . . .

When seventeen-year-old Benjamin Blake's disappearance links back to the Hedonesses, Rachel's world collides with his, and her biggest fear becomes a terrifying reality. She's falling for him - a messy, magnetic, arrow-over-feet type of fall.

Rachel distances herself, struggling to resist the growing attraction, but when he gives up his dream to help her evade arrest, distance becomes an insurmountable task. With the police hot on their trail, Rachel soon realizes there are darker forces hunting them - a group of mortals recruited by the gods who will stop at nothing to preserve the power of the Hedonesses - not to mention Eros himself, who is desperate to reverse the curse . . .

Rachel must learn to do what no Hedoness has done before - to resist her gift - or she'll turn the person she's grown to love into a shadow of himself ... for ever.


My little brother and I are close. We grew up with no TV or Computer and had to find ways to self-entertain. Often that meant me doing things to him to make a quick buck, like the time I proudly caught frogs at the local pond and got it in my head that we could sell them to passersbys with the help of a mascot. And so I made one, by painting my brother with green oil paint – all of him, from his eyelids to his toes. It took weeks and two bottles of turpentine for my mum to get it off. In my defence, I did sell three frogs to one nice couple, though they did pull to the side of the road some ways down, open the door, and let them out again. Still, a sale’s a sale.

              There are many things that don’t involve paint that you can do to keep a close relationship with your siblings. But being their boss isn’t one of them. Yet somehow, I found myself supervising my brother at a real estate investing firm one summer. My day consisted of asking him to do a task, then sitting through his pitch of some story he found on a website called Wattpad in a desperate attempt to avoid working. The problem was, the little brat knew me, and he knew the way to my heart was through a good read – plus I never stopped feeling guilty from the frog incident and sometimes, in certain neon lighting, I swore his skin had a slight tinge of green.

              I hadn’t heard of this Wattpad place, but I soon found myself reading stories from up-and-coming authors instead of filing client forms and calling back developers. We got into this routine of binge reading, then binge working to catch up. I eventually got wise and the next time my brother pitched a story, I said no. Besides, I was already reading on the Wattpad app at home by then. So he did what any little brother desperate not to work does, he found my next weakness and encouraged me to write one of the fanciful stories I’d make up as a kid when we stared at the cardboard box we pretended was a TV – we seriously did this – I’m not sure why it surprises you, I did paint my brother green.

              I was scared at first. My imagination got me through so much of my life, but to put it out into the world and share it with someone other than my family made me feel as vulnerable as a green boy before a turpentine-soaked rag (have I pushed this metaphor too far?). Eventually I gave in and tried posting on Wattpad, though I wrote under a pen name for fear of what people would think. For weeks my brother was the only one who read it. He told me it was good and encouraged me to keep going – to this day I still don’t know if he read it because he genuinely liked it or if he was trying to get out of work again. But then something magical happened, I got a reader, a real reader that wasn’t my brother. And she left a comment, and suddenly all the fear of sharing my imagination with someone else slipped away and I was hooked on the idea that something as beautiful and personal as imagination could connect us. I owe a lot to my brother, it was because of him that I began to write and found myself and my passion. And now my story Arrowheart is a book, a tangible daydream that I can hold and share and turnover to passerbys… hopefully this time they won’t pull over and let my prize out. Maybe I need a book mascot. Come to think of it, my brother does look good in blue.

Rebecca Sky

Thank you to Team Bkmrk for letting me part of this blog tour. 

Monday, 11 June 2018

๐Ÿ“šARC REVIEW - THE SUMMER OF US by Cecilia Vinesse

The Summer Of Us
by Cecilia Vinesse
Publisher - Little Brown Book Group
Release Date - June 14th 2018
Buy - Amazon | Book Depository

Aubrey and Rae have been planning their trip around Europe practically from the moment they became BFFs in primary school. And, now, it ought to be the perfect way to spend their last summer together before university.

But things are more complicated at eighteen than they were at ten. There's Jonah, Aubrey's seemingly perfect boyfriend, and his best friend Gabe, the boy Aubrey may have accidentally kissed. And there's Clara, the friend Rae is crushing on, hard, even though there's no hope because Clara is definitely into guys, not girls.

Five friends. Ten days. Paris, Amsterdam, Prague, Florence, Barcelona. And a messy, complicated, can-this-really-be happening love story, or two ... because how could there not be?

This book is simply utter perfection. This is the first book I've read from Cecilia and I couldn't honestly put it down. I have to say it was probably the quickest I've read in a long time. It kept be hooked, is was beautiful, full of meaning, full of adventure and for me full of dreams.

Best friends Aubrey and Rae, are taking their very last summer trip together before everything changes. Together with Jonah, Aubrey's boyfriend, Gabe, he kissed Aubrey and Clara, Rae's massive crush, things couldn't honestly be more awkward. Aubrey is very much a girl with a plan, she has had since well forever, her life plans are set, Columbia, Jonah and happily ever after. Rae is very much a last minute kind of girl, an all-in bet, she intends to go to the furthest place possible to live, study, a life of adventure and a life of forgetting the one person she's had a crush on her best friend. Told through alternate POVs, travelling isn't all it's cracked up to be and living with your best friends for 10 days can certainly have a strain on all your relationships.

I absolutely adored this book, it's the perfect summer read and the best YA one I found in such a long time. The romance, the secret rendezvous, the bittersweet kisses made me smile so much and the fact I haven’t read something like in a long time spoke volumes. Whilst the plot was centered a lot around Aubrey and Rae dramas and romances,  the whole backpacking around Europe was the perfect backdrop and just made the whole book. It was romantic and adventurous and Cecilia has a beautiful way of describing the surroundings that just make you feel that you are there with them. I loved how it was captured in such different lights, artistic in Rae’s eyes and touristy in Aubrey’s. It was serene and captivating and I really want to see why sights are so much more surreal at night! I think there’s something about the atmosphere and you honestly can’t help but just want to transport there instantly. It makes me want to travel, I’ve never been abroad and I think I felt quite jealous and yet giddy at the prospect that I have all that to come.

This may be a love story but I also felt it’s about finding yourself. Aubrey had these life plans, in he beginning she was scared of leaving her friends and family. This trip kind of defines that, it’s wrapping up that part of her life. Rae is going on a adventure, to Australia with her mum Lucy and studying art, but she almost feels that maybe she’s running away from something. But what if plans change uncontrollable, that people change all the time and yet some can really surprise you.  As Lucy said it’s about being aimless and you have all the time in the world, enjoy life while you can not plan your future. I really emphasized with that, because when I finished 6th Form, I didn't know what I wanted to do, I've been very lucky where I am now, I've fallen in love, my job is amazing and so rewarding and right now I really couldn't be happier. Sometimes having no plan can be the best plan of all.

With the world as your oyster, travel and witness the love story of the summer. The Summer of Us, is the perfect YA contemporary of 2018 and ones the best one I’ve read in a long time.

Rating - ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐️

Thank you to Team Bkmrk for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.