Revealing Holly Martin's cover of The Prophecies

I don't know about you, but I think it's been way too long since we left Eve back in The Sentinel, the prequel to Holly's upcoming title The Prophecies, and I'm thinking it's about time that we caught back up with her, and carried on with her epic story.

Today, I'm helping Holly Martin to reveal her superhuman cover for the much-anticipated The Prophecies, and it-is-incredible. Feast your eyes upon it, readers.


The Prophecies
(The Sentinel Series, #2)
By Holly Martin
Released October 1st 2014

The world is a big place, will Eve really be the one to save it? 
   
Eve grows stronger and more powerful every day as she strives to ensure she is ready to face her destiny. But some of her gifts are unwelcome. Eve's visions of the future become darker and those she loves are in terrible danger. But when her actions result in tragedy, Eve is called before The Oraculum, the council that created her. 

When she is summoned to their castle she becomes aware of a rift between the council members that not only could endanger her life, but could put the whole planet at risk. Would The Oraculum really turn against her and risk everything? 

But in the darkness, a light burns bright. Her love for Seth is stronger than any of her powers. 

But as she battles against a new threat, can she really forsake those closest to her in order to save the world? Will everyone Eve loves survive? 

***

When I read The Sentinel by Holly Martin, I was hugely surprised with myself. My typical genre is romance/chick-lit, so the fantasy feel to The Sentinel was something that I wasn't entirely prepared for. I also wasn't prepared for the absolute epicness of Eve and her story, and the action-packed, breath-taking adventure that I was taken on. It blew my mind, again and again and again, and it feels as if I have been waiting forever to be reunited with the characters. The cover just says it all, really. Electrifying chemistry, earth-trembling events, and Holly Martin's unique writing style.  What more could you possibly want?

Oh, of course! You could possibly want to read The Sentinel, which is where Eve is first introduced to her astonishing powers, and her story really kicks off. If so, you'll be chuffed to know that The Sentinel is currently on sale for just 77p/99c, and you can download it here! And just in case you need a little persuasion, then you can also go here and read my 5* review. 


Revealing Rebecca Raisin's cover of Christmas Wedding at the Gingerbread Cafe

I have been waiting so freaking long for Rebecca Raisin's cover for Christmas Wedding at the Gingerbread Cafe, and I am so excited to finally be able to share it with you all, on Rebecca Raisin's behalf. If you thought her previous covers were the cutest covers that you ever did see, then I'm sorry to say this, dear readers (well, actually no, I'm not), but you truly haven't seen anything yet.

Behold, the absolutely stunning cover for Rebecca Raisin's Christmas Wedding at the Gingerbread Cafe! 


Christmas Wedding at the Gingerbread Cafe
By Rebecca Raisin
Released October 15th 2014

You are invited to the wedding of the year! 

Snow is falling thick and fast outside the Gingerbread Cafe 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 Cafe 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? 

***

I know. I absolutely know. Isn't it just bloody beautiful? You can pre-order Rebecca Raisin's Christmas Wedding at the Gingerbread Cafe right here! 


Anddddd you can find the absolutely fabulous Rebecca Raisin here! 


I am so looking forward to catching up with Lily and the gang once again, and who can resist a Christmas wedding? Certainly not I! ;)

Becca xxx








A Trick of the Mind by Penny Hancock

Loving a person, while needing to get away from them, was a paradox I couldn't explain. 


Title - A Trick of the Mind
Author - Penny Hancock
Publisher - Simon and Schuster UK
Publication Date - 11th September 2014
Format - eBook (Provided via NetGalley)
Pages - 285

The blurb

Have you committed a crime... or are you the victim of one? 

Driving down to the cottage in Southwold she's newly inherited from her Aunty May, Ellie senses she is on the edge of something new. The life she's always dreamed of living as a successful artist seems as though it is about to begin. So excited is she that she barely notices when the car bumps against something on the road. 

That evening Ellie hears a news flash on the radio. A man was seriously injured in a hit and run on the very road she was driving down that evening. Then Ellie remembers the thump she heard. Could she have been responsible for putting a man in hospital? Unable to hold the doubts at bay, she decides to visit the victim to lay her mind to rest, little knowing that the consequences of this decision will change her life forever. 

Becca's thoughts 

First off, I'd like to say a massive thank you to the publishers for accepting me for a digital copy via Net Galley, and secondly, an even bigger thank you to the brilliant author Penny Hancock, for working her magic. 

I don't tend to read books like this that often. As you already know, my usual much-loved genre is the lovey-dovey type, where a girl and a boy fall hopelessly, head-over-heels in love with each other. So, whenever I decide that it's time for a switch-up in genre, an incredibly gripping thriller can always do the trick. And thankfully, I found that grip and thrill in A Trick of the Mind by Penny Hancock. This is the first novel that I have read by the author, and before reading, Penny was not on my radar, but I think its safe to say that I'm extremely keen to add some more of her books to my ever-growing to-read list after diving into A Trick of the Mind, and struggling to come back up to the surface, gasping and spluttering. That is the effect that the words within this title had on me, and without a doubt, this is one of the most all-consuming novels that I have ever read. 

In A Trick of the Mind, we are introduced to Eleanor, or more commonly known as Ellie. As the story begins, Ellie is driving down a lane towards her Aunty May's house beside the sea. The house was left for Ellie by her Aunty when she took her own life, and due to the warm and loving relationship that Ellie felt had been present between herself and her Aunt, Ellie was more than happy to take on the role of home owner. As Ellie drove down that dark, windy lane, her car hit something. Now normally, Ellie would have stopped. The need to stop and check and reassure herself that nothing bad had happened ran through Ellie's veins. She was neurotic, paranoid and completely overwhelmed by the feeling of unease and worry. On that night though, Ellie was leaving not just to stay in her Aunt's home, but to start fresh. She had left her boyfriend Finn, and she was certain that bigger and better things were coming her way, and of course they were, Definitely bigger, but maybe not better. Ellie's life begins to spiral rapidly out of control.

I absolutely loved how Penny hit me with dilemma straight away. There was a little background information, and then all of a sudden, BAM! The danger was there. I didn't see it coming at all, and I was hooked right from the get-go. Penny's writing was just incredible. There was such a fierce intensity behind her words and phrases, and the oppressive atmosphere that seemed to continue the entire way through really had its effect on me. Every word was dark and dangerous, and there was this constant subtle hint that something was going to happen, something frankly quite terrifying. 

Penny's creation of Ellie's character was just superb. I felt like I knew Ellie like one of my closest friends. It was almost as if I knew exactly how her mind worked, the ins and outs. Ever since a child, and for some reason that she cannot remember, Ellie had been compulsive. She'd tap things three times, believing that somehow it would keep her safe. She'd flick a light-switch on and off five times, look over her shoulder twice... The reason for Ellie behaving this way is later revealed to you as the plot progresses, and Penny weaved together the past and the present to ensure that it all made sense to the reader. I could actually feel the freedom that Ellie felt when she was driving down that lane towards her Aunt's house, leaving her boyfriend and her paranoid self behind in the past. It was like Ellie had been a trapped bird, and suddenly, she had been let free. She was free to do whatever she pleased, free to move in whichever directions she wanted to, and it was exhilarating to experience that with her. But as soon as her car took that bump, I knew it was all over. And how right I was. From that moment on, Ellie's compulsive ways swiftly returned and she was right back at square one. It was almost as if the world was out to taunt and haunt her, and everywhere she looked, she was reminded that she should have turned back on that lane when she felt the bump, but instead decided to keep going. 

There was actually a very compelling story behind Aunty May and her little house by the sea, but it isn't revealed until much later on within the plot. There's a whole history behind it, and Ellie has always felt like there's something that has shaped her into her paranoid self, but she has never been able to quite put her finger on it. It's almost like a side-story within the novel itself, revolving around Aunty May and her very goose-bump worthy history. Ellie has always wondered why her Aunt left the house to her. They had always been close, both artistic and capable of completely losing themselves to the stroke of a paintbrush, but still, there was always something nagging at the back of Ellie's mind. 

A Trick of the Mind was a twisting, intense, chilling read that held me absolutely captive. I couldn't believe it when it took a completely unexpected turn, and I actually gasped out loud about a billion times. It was just INCREDIBLE. THIS is the how thrillers should be written. In such a way that they climb right inside your head, crawl beneath your skin, and shake up your world. Who can you trust? What can you believe? I'm sure you won't be sure of your answers to those questions once you're finished with A Trick of the Mind.   

Becca's Books is rating A Trick of the Mind by Penny Hancock with a glowing rating of five cupcakes. I was unable to tear my thoughts away from the progressing story even when my Kindle was back at home and I was at work. It left me wondering, thinking, keenly wanting to figure out where Penny was going to take Ellie and whether she'd still be in one piece by the time the novel came to an end. It had my heart racing, my skin prickling, and I just couldn't leave it alone. Absolutely fantastic, and what an incredible introduction to Penny Hancock's skills and talents as a writer. Definitely going to keep an eye out for more of the authors books. Definitely. 


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Mexican Kimono by Billie Jones ~ BLOG TOUR!

It's true, all the best guys are gay or look better in stilettos than you do. Life can be cruel. 


Title - Mexican Kimono
Author - Billie Jones
Publisher - Carina UK
Publication Date - September 4th 2014
Format - eBook (Provided via publisher)

The blurb

Samantha knows what she wants from life - and she's got it!

1. A loving family. OK, her mum's plan to marry her off to the world's most metrosexual man might not be ideal... but it's only because she cares!

2. A great job. Or at least: a job that leaves plenty of time to update Twitter and shop for designer bargains online... 

3. A credit card, with a very generous limit. So generous that she's just spent over $10,000 on an antique kimono... 

But suddenly Samantha's charmed life starts to fall apart! From a hair-related fire to losing her job, Sam's facing bad karma - and it all started when she bought that kimono... 

Sure, it's ridiculous. How could a piece of silk ever bring bad luck? But it can! Because, whether Samantha likes it or not, someone wants to teach her a lesson: it's what's inside that counts. 

But will Samantha slow down long enough to listen? 

Becca's thoughts   

Wahoo! So today, I'm sharing my review of Mexican Kimono by Billie Jones for the blog tour, hosted by Chicks That Read. I finished reading Mexican Kimono a while ago now, but it still feels as fresh in my mind as if I had only finished reading it yesterday, and for me, that's a sign that tells me I've read a great book. Completely memorable, and sticks with you long after you've turned the last page. Anyway, I'll get started. 

Reading Mexican Kimono was like a breath of fresh air. The story itself was unique, and written in a such a way that it had me giggling to myself almost the entire way through. Billie Jones created a fabulous character to be her heroine, Samantha Bevilaqua, who's rather rose-tinted look at the world made me, at times, shake my head in disbelief. She was sarcastic, cheeky, and downright playful, which made my reading of Mexican Kimono endlessly enjoyable. 

What leads into the main part of the story is the purchasing of a beautiful silk, kimono that Samantha just happens to fall upon as she's strolling down the street and decides to step into an auction. From that moment on, Samantha becomes cursed, and everything begins going wrong for the poor woman. She sets her hair extensions on fire, bad luck seems to follow her everywhere, and before she knows it, the Mexican Kimono is alive and dancing around her flat. There's something dangerous yet magical about the kimono, and as much as she knows that she should get rid of the damn thing asap, she just can't bring herself to do so. Not until things begin to get serious, anyway.

What I loved most about Mexican Kimono was Samantha's character. I just found her to be hilarious. And, as much as I feel mean saying this, just a teensy bit dim-witted, too. She seemed to have this idea that everyone around her fancied her, that everyone was in love with her, even when people were so obviously getting bored of her. She seemed oblivious to the fact that she was driving everyone crazy, and that she was incredibly materialistic. She insulted her friends, and one point decided that she'd be finding a new best friend to take her current one's place. Samantha saw no problem is spending a mountain of cash on the kimono, but there was one person who did, and that was Samantha's mother. 

Sam's mum was a bit of a wacky character, who believed in curses and spells and was constantly rabbiting on to Samantha about bad auras and chakras. I think Samantha thought her Mum was a bit of a loon, to be honest. Sam never took any notice of her Mum's "warnings", even when the Kimono does begin to act up. I think that the weird and wonderful character of Sam's Mum added a sort of hippy-like feel to the story, and despite it being so far-fetched, I just couldn't stop enjoying it! 

There's also Sam's ex lovers, one who now dresses as a woman, and another who turned gay. Billie added so much character and depth to Mexican Kimono, it was jam-packed with humour and entertainment. The characters were just so "out-there" and outrageous, and I really couldn't help but shake my head at how Sam always managed to get herself into ridiculous situations! 

I really loved Billie's writing style. It's definitely different to anything that I've read before, and she has such a style, especially when creating the dialogue for Sam's character. I spent the majority of my time reading Mexican Kimono snorting and laughing and rolling my eyes. It was entertaining, far-fetched but just so bloody addictive. A great introduction to Billie Jones's writing! 

Billie Jones, Becca's Books is rating Mexican Kimono with five yummy cupcakes! A laugh-out-loud book that'll have you wondering whether there are actually people like Samantha out there in the big wide world! 


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BLOG HOP ~ Why I Write.

Morning folks! 
I was tagged in this great blog hop by the absolutely delightful Sophie, who blogs at Reviewed The Book. Sophie is a fellow book blogger, who is constantly reading or reviewing something, whilst hosting some of the best give-aways, and of course, offering fabulous book chat whenever you're in need! 

So, I think the idea of this blog hop is for me to answer four questions, all to do with why I write and blog, and there will be two other bloggers tagged at the end of this post, and they'll be posting on their blogs next week. 

~ Why do I write? ~

I started my blog last year, as I was in desperate need of somewhere to ramble on about a book once I had finished it. I had so many thoughts running around in my head once I finished reading a book, it was beginning to become a teensy bit overwhelming. 

Writing my reviews allows me to keep track of which books I've read and what I thought of them. My memory is kind of rubbish, and with me reading so many books, it can become very easy to lose my whereabouts, haha. 

I also hope that other readers out there will have a read of my blog, and maybe see something that they love the sound of. I really have to try hard not to shove books in people's faces, so writing my reviews are the next best thing!

~ What am I working on? ~

Really not that much right now, just trying my best to keep on top writing my reviews and trying to keep to a schedule, which I am insanely rubbish at, paha! Real-life wise, I've been dabbling in a little bit of writing lately, and I'm really enjoying that. Nothing like letting your creativity shine through! And I seem to have so many ideas lately, so I guess that's a good thing too! 

~ How does it differ from others from its genre? ~

To be honest, I don't think there is anything that makes my blog stand out from the rest! I rate what I read with cupcakes, haha, does that count? There are a ton of book blogs out there, and some are absolutely amazing, and sometimes I do worry about that. But then I think, it's not all about how your blog looks! As long as there's passion, love and enjoyment in what you do, then why worry about anything else?! 

~ How does my writing process work? ~ 

There is no method to this madness, hahaha! I don't really have a process as such. I usually finish reading the book and then write my review, which doesn't seem to have any sort of structure to it either. I honestly just put my fingers to the keyboard and then see what happens. I don't like to make things too clipped and professional. Your blog is all about you and your unique style, and my style would be rambling, making no sense whatsoever, and generally just going on and on for ages! 

Thanks for the tag, lovely Sophie!
My two nominations are Jo from Comet Babe's Books, and Rebecca from Forever Between Pages. Can't wait to read your posts ladies! Happy Monday folks! 

The Beginners Guide to the Birds and the Bees by Sophie Hart

If she could fix everyone else's love life, then why couldn't she fix her own? 


Title - The Beginners Guide to the Birds and the Bees
Author - Sophie Hart 
Publisher - Bookouture 
Publication Date - 19th September 2014
Format - eBook (Provided via NetGalley)
Pages - 384

The blurb

What happens in the bedroom doesn't have to stay in the bedroom
A refreshingly open and uplifting romantic comedy about friendship, love and sex. Sometimes you need to step out of your comfort zone in order to give a relationship a good dose TLC...

Sex therapist Annie Hall helps couples put the fizz back into their relationships. It's a shame her own love life is non-existent. When Jamie who works next door catches her eye, she can't ignore the spark of chemistry.

Most men would jump at the chance to skive off work for an afternoon quickie with their gorgeous wife, but Nick knows Julia is after only one thing - a baby. Sex shouldn't be a chore. Can Annie help Julia see that? 

Newly engaged Zoe and Simon can't keep their hands of each other. They've decided to take a vow of celibacy until their wedding night. Will Annie help them stick to it? 

Roy and Linda have been married for over thirty years but she's more interested in the family business than getting intimate with him. Can Annie convince Linda to rediscover her passion for Roy after all this time? 

While Annie begins to work her magic with the three couples, she soon discovers that she'll need to take some of her own advice if she's going to let a new man into her life. 

Becca's thoughts

As usual, I'm going to begin my review by thanking the fabulous publishers Bookouture for accepting me via Net Galley. I hate to sound like a complete cover fiend (which I am), but I just loved the cover for Sophie's title, which of course enticed me to to then read the description, and as soon as I clicked 'request', I knew that I was in for a treat. I also can't forget to thank the author herself, Sophie Hart, for writing such a gorgeous story. The Beginner's Guide to The Birds and The Bees had everything that I love and so it was an absolute pleasure and joy for me to read.

There were SO MANY THINGS that I adored about this book. SO MANY! 

Firstly, I'm going to talk about Sophie Hart's wonderful writing style, because it is something that I have grown to adore in the short time that I spent reading the book. There's something sweet about it, something that makes me want to sit back with a hot cup of tea, a few chocolate biscuits and completely give myself up to Sophie's gorgeous words. It's light-hearted, warm, and entirely good-natured. You'd think that Annie's career as a sex therapist would mean that you'd be in for a dark and naughty read, but surprisingly it's not like that at all. Of course there's talk of sex and relationships etc, but it all comes along with a stunning little dose of softness. It's not hard-hitting or shocking in anyway, and I wanted to just wrap myself up in Sophie's words and snuggle down. When I think of the writing style in The Beginner's Guide to The Birds and The Bees, I smile, because it's the sort of writing that does that to you. 

The actual plot of the book was bloody brilliant, and not once did I find myself feeling tired or bored of the story. Annie's profession meant that you were always being introduced to/catching up with a different couple who were seeking Annie's help, as well Sophie expertly changing the narrative to the couples themselves. I loved this, as it meant you were given a little insight into each couple's personal lives when they were away from Annie's office, and you were also invited to figure out where the problems lay between them. But even despite the focus being on Annie's career, Sophie also switches it between that and Annie's personal life too, which again, was just bloody fabulous! 

Annie Hall herself was superb, and I felt connected with her right from the very beginning. I found Annie to be a lovely, well-rounded woman, who most definitely deserved her own chance at true-love after putting her all into making everybody else's dreams come true. This really emphasised the fact that Annie was a truly beautiful person, inside and out, and she always chose to put her client's needs before her own. I just really, really wanted Annie to find a love for herself. She worked incredibly hard, staying late and ensuring she provided her clients with only the best. She was definitely in need of a break, by all accounts. Her love for rom-com movies made me think that she was a true romantic at heart. Annie's pregnant sister was always trying to set Annie up on dates with strange men, but Annie just knew it wasn't happened. No chemistry, no connection, and most of them were plain idiots anyway. No, I knew that Annie wanted something magical, something different, and she knew herself that she wasn't going to find that in one of her sister's set-ups.

Besides Annie, there were a multitude of fabulous characters to keep you entertained. The couples were brilliant, each with their own unique set of problems that they went to Annie with. They all had their own personalities and their own views towards visiting a sex therapist which made me giggle at times. And there's also the gorgeous Jamie who works across the hall from Annie, who she sees every now and again when popping into the communal kitchens for a drink and a biscuit or two. And as mentioned above, there's Annie's pregnant sister who really wants Annie to find someone who can make her happy. Sophie created such a colourful array of characters, and I think I fell for them all! 

The Beginners Guide to The Birds and The Bees is absolutely perfect for chick-lit lovers. It had everything! The comedy, the romance, a little splash of drama! If I could have wrapped my Kindle around me, then I would have, because I felt like I was cocooned into Annie's world with Sophie's superb characters and story. 

Becca's Books is rating The Beginner's Guide to The Birds and The Bees with four gorgeous cupcakes! Everything about this book is why I love to read. 


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Reflection by Diane Chamberlain

You can never outrun the past.


Title - Reflection
Author - Diane Chamberlain
Publisher - Pan 
Publication Date - 31st July 2014
Format - Paperback (Provided via publisher)
Pages - 391

The blurb

Twenty years ago, a terrible tragedy shattered the tranquillity of the small Pennsylvania Dutch town of Reflection. The residents have never forgiven the one woman they blamed for what happened - Rachel Huber - and after the incident, she left Reflection and cut off all ties there. But when Rachel receives the news that her estranged grandmother, Helen, is ill and needs her care, she has to return. 

Yet the town has not forgotten the past and amongst the hostility and gossip, Rachel is forced to seek out old allies and new passions. Soon she finds an unlikely advocate in her grandmother, who surprises her with her wise counsel and rare strength. Rachel comes to realise that they are both trying to overcome the past and, in doing so, brings private guilt and concealed secrets into the light. 

Becca's thoughts 

Firstly, a big thank you to the wonderful publishers Pan Macmillan for sending me a copy of Diane Chamberlain's Reflection in the post. Reflection is the first book that I have read by the author, so I'm happy to have finally read one of Chamberlain's novel. 

I should probably start by saying that Reflection would not normally be something that I would choose to read myself, because it wouldn't fall into my typical reading genre of chick-lit/romance, BUT, whenever starting something new, I like to begin reading with an open mind, which I did. In fact, I was actually quite looking forward to giving myself a break from the light-hearted, comical reads that I tend to read almost constantly. Sometimes a change of genre is just what you need! 

In Diane Chamberlain's Reflection, we're introduced to Rachel Huber, past resident of Reflection, and haunted by a dark and chilling past. Rachel left the small Dutch town after a tragic event took place, and stayed away for a good time, until a call from a nurse at the hospital where her Grandmother is pulls her back towards the town to help her estranged family member. Once there, the secrets from the past begin to unfold, and not just Rachel's secrets. The residents of Reflection aren't too sure what to make of Rachel's return, after all, it was Rachel's fault that what happened took place, and they're not completely ready to forgive and forget. As well as Rachel, Rachel's grandmother Helen, is a major character within the novel, who the past is intrinsically wound around. There's also Michael, Reflection's minister if the church, who is full of faith and love for Rachel's return to the town, and helps in any way that he possibly can to ease the pain and suffering that is sure to fly Rachel's way. The past, it seems, is impossible to forget. Especially one full of such sadness and tragedy. 

I'm not going to say that I disliked this book, because I most definitely didn't. I just didn't love it, you know?
The story behind Reflection, and Rachel and Helen's combined pasts, really made for an interesting read, and there were parts where I wanted questions answered as soon as possible, so that my mind would stop bloody whirring and trying to figure things out for itself. There were so many factors to take into consideration within the novel that my thoughts were constantly kept working, and there were a ton of themes too. I felt like religion was a major topic within the novel. Reflection's church was a main point within the town, where a lot of the residents congregated for meetings etc. The church was also Michael's sanctuary, and religion was something that he took very seriously. There was also the plan to erect office buildings within Reflection, partially destroying the beautiful greenery in favour of tall, grey buildings, which of course sent the residents of Reflection crazy. There's also the topic of war, music, love and temptation. 

I felt like the novel was constantly shrouded in a grim, depressive atmosphere, with a few uplifting moments here and there, which is understandable really, considering what happened all those years ago. Diane kept dropping clues here and there, diving back into the past to let you in on Rachel and Helen's past. Thankfully, the author left no answers unquestioned, and looped everything back together in the end. I wasn't left questioning anything, or wondering what happened with so and so. Everything was concluded perfectly and I finished reading with a feeling of satisfaction that there were no loose ends. 

Reflection by Diane Chamberlain was a very serious novel, showing you the true effects of war, love and community strength. Diane's writing was powerful and sensitive, touching down on some very controversial topics. It was about forgiveness and letting go of the past in order to move forward, and despite not being incredibly gripped by it, it was a great read and I'm glad that I took the time to read it.

Becca's Books is rating Reflection by Diane Chamberlain with three yummy cupcakes. Very serious, with a twisting and turning plot. 


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Author interview with Portia Macintosh



Today on Becca's Books, I am incredibly excited to be interviewing the fabulous Portia Macintosh. I did worry that I was getting a little too personal with the questions that I sent Portia's way, but after been told that it was one of her favourite interviews to date, I was no longer worried, and I hope you enjoy reading about Portia's lifestyle and world as much as I did. 

B ~ Portia, thanks so much for agreeing to be interviewed on Becca's Books. It's incredibly exciting to have you here! For those readers who haven't yet heard of you, would you mind introducing yourself to them? 

P ~ My name is Portia Macintosh and I'm a sort-of groupie turned author. I have toured with bands since I was just 15 and a couple of years ago I decided to start writing novels as a way to tell my tour stories anonymously. I soon realised that I loved writing books, so I write about all sorts of things now, not just life on the road. 

B ~ From the age of just 15, you became a groupie and went on-tour with a bunch of rock-stars! Could you describe what that was like, being so young? How did you manage to get into that sort of thing at such a young age? I bet it was exciting, right? 

P ~ The early days in particular feel like a weird dream, or a movie I watched a long time ago or something [laughs]. Basically, I got "in" with a very famous band at the time, and through them I met others, eventually started working in the industry and here I am, more than ten years later. When I use the term groupie, what I really mean is hanger-on. I think people hear the word groupie and think it's a sex thing, but it's not. You're like one of the family. I have some amazing memories, I wouldn't change a thing. 

B ~ When did you decide for the first time that you wanted to share your secrets with the world in the form of writing? Was it a big decision to make? 

P ~ I remember exactly when it was. It was a few years ago and it was the middle of the night. I was swapping stories with a friend and he jokily told me I should write a book, dishing the dirt on everyone and everything. Kiss-and-tell girls are not the most popular in the industry - in fact, had I straight-up told my stories, everyone would've fallen out with me. Discretion is a big deal. If you blab, you don't get invited along any more. I was reading a lot of chick-lit, and thought a novel would be a great way to tell these stories without upsetting anyone or getting anyone in trouble. The biggest decision was whether or not I needed a pen name - in the end, I decided it would be for the best. I would hate for people to read one of my books, look at who I'm friends with and make assumptions about who a character is based on. It's not that straight forward. 

B ~ What were the people who your travelled on tour with like? Did you ever gain any serious crushes on the guys that you toured with? 

P ~ You have your good people and your bad people. It's a bit like school, in that you have your authority figures you're supposed to listen to, your best friends, the kids you don't like, etc. All my boyfriends to date have been boys from bands - not sure if that's a good thing or a band thing. It's hard not to develop crushes on the musicians because they're such fun, charismatic, talented and interesting people. They're often bad boys too though, so these crushes aren't always comfortable. 

B ~ You don't have to answer this one if you feel it may be a bit too personal, but what did your parents think about you heading off on tour at age 15? 

P ~ In its most basic form, I don't think any parent would want that for their teenager... but my parents knew I was a good kid. It would be different if were I going around in a little van with a bunch of people I didn't really know, but these were my close friends, and my parents knew a lot about the people I went around with - not only because they were Google-able and on TV all time, but because they met them. One night on tour we stopped by my house to say hello - nothing gets your neighbours attention like a tour bus parked outside your house. Bigger bands are well looked after - they only play nice venues, stay in fancy hotels, etc. The buses are safe, the schedule is strict and everyone looks out for everyone. So they knew that when I was with the band, I was OK. 

B ~ Was it as glamorous as it sounds? Did you ever bore of it? 

P ~ It can be very glamorous, and it can be unglamorous too. A fancy hotel suite soon becomes a sh*thole when you put a bunch of drunk boys in there. When the bus gets messy and you can't get comfortable or sleep, it's easy to get homesick. There's this period of time, just after the band goes to sleep and just before the driver etc. wakes up, when it's quiet and lonely and this is my least favourite time to be the only person awake. The good thing about being with the band and not in the band is that you can go home whenever you feel like it. 

B ~ Where did you live before you went on tour? How often did you return home? Did you miss it whilst you were away? How long were you typically on the road for? 

P ~ I'm from a tiny northern village no one has heard of, where everyone knows everything about everyone. When you're just along for the ride, you can do as much or as little as you like, so it wasn't tricky to fit it in around real life while I was still doing my exams. Once school was over, it was easier to get more into it. I could do the occasional night, a few at once or pop home in between. I still miss home when I'm away. Nothing beats your own bed! 

B ~ Can you tell us some of your favourite experiences? 

P ~ Sometimes it's the simplest things that are the best. I remember one day when we're driving along the motorway on the bus, the sun was shining outside, someone got out an acoustic guitar (there's always an acoustic guitar) and we had a bit of a sing-a-long. I had a really lovely moment where I just sat and thought "these are my people". I also have a lot of funny memories of bumping into people behind the scenes, thinking that I know them, and then later realising they were in fact someone famous and that I maybe didn't act like you're "supposed to" around them. I once mistook a world famous American singer for a fan of the band I was with... most of their fans weren't very nice to me, so I don't think I was particularly nice to her. Oops. 

B ~ In your latest title Bad Bridesmaid, was the story itself or any of your characters based on real people? Some of the scenes were absolutely hilarious! 

P ~ Perhaps it has something to do with the fact I only started writing to tell real stories, but I like to base things on real life. Weirdly I got asked to be a bridesmaid not long after I started writing the book, but the bigger picture isn't based on anything real. I'll borrow from a person I know in real, or maybe an individual incident now and then though. 

B ~ Your main character Mia Valentina was a bit of a bitch (ha-ha!), but I couldn't help but love her! What made you want to create her character in that way, rather than making her a goody-two-shoes sort of person? 

P ~ There are so many ditzy, down on their luck, helpless, desperately in need of a boyfriend leading ladies in chick-lit. I just thought it'd be cool to have someone strong but flawed, someone who seems to have it all, but isn't totally happy. She's her own person and she's different. We're all different - we're all a bit of a bitch sometimes, too. 

B ~ In Bad Bridesmaid, Mia felt pushed-out and disliked by almost all of her family members. You wrote is such a way that it seemed you had been through it yourself. Is this the case, or was it all completely from your imagination? 

P ~ My immediate family is amazing! We're really close and nothing like the Harrison family at all, but there are people I'm close with who have family dramas, so I took a lot of inspiration from that. 

B ~ What made you want to base Bad Bridesmaid around the wedding of Mia's little sister Belle? Are you big on weddings? In fact, are you married yourself? 

P ~ I'm not married. I have nothing against marriage - if I can find someone who knows me well and still wants to be around me all the time, that'd be great - I'm not big on weddings though. I'm not very good at being the centre of attention, so I'm not sure I could go through with a traditional one. I find them fun to attend, but things like rounding up all the single girls to catch the bouquet... I don't like that. Probably because I get ushered to the front while an elderly auntie patronisingly mutters "maybe someday, Portia". 

B ~ What are some of your favourite scenes to write, Portia? Do you prefer the emotional moments, or are you more of a passionate, sexy sort of writer? 

P ~ When it comes to sex scenes, I very much beat about the bush... so to speak. I do love getting down to the getting it on, but I quite like the real, emotional stuff too. I think my favourite bit is writing the stuff that happens in between - those early moments of flirting when you're building a connection between two characters and they don't even know it yet. You're planting these little seeds that make these two people seem perfect together - or totally wrong for each other - and they have no idea. If only they knew what I was about to put them through [laughs]! 

B ~ If someone was to follow in your footsteps and choose to become a groupie, what three tips would you give them before they set off? Is there anything in particular that they should watch out for or do? 

P ~ 1.) Be careful who you trust. I've always said that I like dating people who are quite well known because they behave. If things turn sour, they don't want you blabbing to about everything that went on. But... we live in an age where horrible stories are coming out about celebs all the time now. Sometimes they think they're untouchable and that they can do whatever they want. 
2.) Only do what you want to do. If you don't want to drink, don't. The same goes for drugs, sex... jumping in the hotel pool in your clothes! Only do what you want to do, and don't associate with anyone who tries to make you do otherwise. 
3.) Don't treat the celebrities like celebrities. When you see someone you're a huge fan of, you'll want to fan-girl all over them. Try not to. Talk to them like you would one of your mates and they're more likely to talk back rather than just letting you snap a photo before dashing off. 

B ~ Bad Bridesmaid has turned out to be a hit so far, Portia! Everybody seems to be loving it. How does that make you feel as a writer? And also, as an author, how do you cope with negative comments? 

P ~ It's amazing when someone tells you they stayed up all night reading your book or how much they enjoyed it. It's great to be able to make someone feel that way. You can't please everyone so there's always going to be bad reviews... there's constructive criticism, which is always welcome, but sometimes people are really mean. You can't take it to heart though. I think years of dealing with boy-band fans has hardened me to it all [laughs]. 

B ~ Are you planning anything else for the foreseeable future? Anything that we should look out for? 

P ~ I started my new book recently... I'm very excited about that! It's based on a messy situation I've landed myself in in real life, so it's back to the celebrity world. I find it really therapeutic to take my real life dramas and put them to good use [laughs]. I have another book out very soon too... I'm just making the most of touring while I' between books. 

B ~ And of course, something that helps out any aspiring writers out there, what are your top three writing tips? 

P ~ 1.) Blast through your first draft without worrying too much about if it's good or if that particular sentence is perfect. Then re-write each chapter until you love it. 
2.) Don't worry about writing flawed characters. People aren't perfect, so why do your characters need to be? We all do stupid stuff we can't explain and make massive mistakes. Your characters should do the same. 
3.) Don't take too much advice. Yes, mine included. Not all good advice is going to be good for you. What works for some people doesn't work so well for others so pick and choose wisely. 

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Portia, thank you so much for appearing on Becca's Books today. Absolutely adored reading all about your life on tour, it's so interesting, and you've given us a wonderful insight into the world of Portia Macintosh! 

Becca xxx