Blog Tour: The Vintage Summer Wedding

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Today I am taking part in the blog tour for The Vintage Summer Wedding and have a Q&A with the lovely Jenny Oliver.

  1.  Are your characters loosely based on real people?

Not consciously! I’m sure there are elements in there of lots of people that I know or stories I’ve been told that resonated but otherwise they are entirely fictional. Philippe and Rachel appeared in my first book The Parisian Christmas Bake Off and I found that I missed them when the book was done so it was really nice to bring them back for more – Philippe especially, he’s a favourite of mine!

  1.  Would you personally prefer an extravagant wedding or a low budget vintage wedding?

Low budget vintage definitely, which is actually what I did have – lots of candles, bunting, geraniums in flower pots, mismatched china and lanterns hanging from the trees. I leave the big extravagant weddings to other people and really enjoy them when I’m invited! A friend got married at Babington House a couple of years ago which was stunning – there were fireworks at midnight, big glinting candelabras on all the tables and trays of espresso martinis – it was as close as I’ve come to feeling like a celebrity!

  1.  What is your favourite wedding song?

Ooh I don’t know. When Dolly Parton comes on I head straight to the dance floor – does that count as a wedding song?

  1.  Did you learn anything from writing The Vintage Summer Wedding, and what was it?

I learnt an awful lot about ballet and the dedication it takes to be a star. I also reaffirmed the idea that good is good enough which is something I often forget – you can only ever do your best. In the book Anna is taught that lesson by a bunch of school kids auditioning for Britain’s Got Talent which was really fun to write.

  1.  If you could meet any of your own characters, who would it be and what would you say?

Philippe definitely – he really makes me laugh and he’s so good looking that I’d just gaze at him across the table. I would also quite like to have lunch with Hermione from The Vintage Summer Wedding because she’s so brash and I think would be great fun to be around (although I’d never want to cross her!).

  1.  What has been the best part about writing The Vintage Summer Wedding?

I wrote it in the depths of winter so it was lovely to feel the sun. I love the ending as well – that was probably the most enjoyable part to write – I don’t want to give it away so you’ll have to read it to find out why!

  1.  Give us an interesting fun fact about your book.

Nearly all the antiques in it are things that someone in my family owns, I’ve bought, been given or nearly bought over the years.

  1.  Who is your favourite character from your book and why?

Hermoine definitely. She’s a fab secondary character because she breezes in all audacious and causes trouble. I love her (and her clothes!)

  1.  Are you a good dancer?

No. I think I’m more enthusiastic than good.

10. If you had the chance to be part of a reality TV show, which would it be and why?

Good question. I’d quite like to pop into the Big Brother house just for a night to see what it’s like (I’d be terrible on the show though because I’d get caught gossiping about the other contestants!) and I’d swing by the King’s Road to have a glass of champagne on Made in Chelsea. At the moment I’d quite like to go on the Bear Grylls Island programme with all the men trying to survive in the wild because I think it’d be good to see how a group of women would fare in the same position.

11. There’s a pinterest competition running for this book – did you have a collection of images to inspire you while writing this book?

I didn’t but having done my Vintage Summer Wedding Pinterest board I definitely will in the future. I loved doing it – much better than working. I think it’s a new must for every book. Can’t wait to see other people’s vintage wedding inspired boards…

Jenny’s pinterest board can be found here:

http://www.pinterest.com/carinauk/the-vintage-summer-wedding-blog-tour/

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Spending the summer uncovering hidden treasures in a vintage shop, Anna can still vividly remember both her childhood dreams; the first was that she’d become a Prima Ballerina, and dance on stage resplendent in a jewel-encrusted tutu. The second was that at her wedding she would walk down the aisle wearing a collective-gasp-from-the-congregation dress.

Years ago Anna pirouetted out of her cosy hometown village in a whirl of ambition…but when both of those fairy-tale dreams came crashing down around her ballet shoes, she and fiancée Seb find themselves back in Nettleton, their wedding and careers postponed indefinitely…

Don’t they say that you can never go home again? Sometimes they don’t get it right… This one summer is showing Anna that your dreams have to grow up with you. And sometimes what you think you wanted is just the opposite of what makes you happy…

JENNY OLIVER wrote her first book on holiday when she was ten years old. Illustrated with cut-out supermodels from her sister’s Vogue, it was an epic, sweeping love story not so loosely based on Dynasty.

Since then Jenny has gone on to get an English degree, a Masters, and a job in publishing that’s taught her what it takes to write a novel (without the help of the supermodels). She wroteThe Parisian Christmas Bake Off on the beach in a sea-soaked, sand-covered notebook andThe Vintage Summer Wedding is her follow up. Follow her on Twitter @JenOliverBooks

The book is currently available for £2.99 as Google Play Read of the Week and you can download it here –http://bit.ly/1tnH0t5

Or on Amazon here.

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Author interview: Jenny Oliver

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Today I’m very lucky to have the very lovely Jenny Oliver on the blog talking about her book The Parisian Christmas Bake Off, patisseries and roasted chestnuts!

1. Hi Jenny! Welcome to Sheli Reads! Tell us a bit about your book, The Parisian Christmas Bake Off.

Thanks for having me, Sheli!

The Parisian Christmas Bake Off is essentially about a girl, Rachel, heading off to Paris at Christmas to take part in a competition to become a world-renowned baker’s apprentice. But underneath that it’s about her coming to terms with the loss of her mother, facing her fears and having the courage to let her talent shine and live in the present again. Plus lots of mouth-watering cakes, competitiveness and sabotage, a sprinkling of romance and whole lot of Christmas!

2. Where did you get your inspiration to write the book?

I had always wanted to write a Christmas book but wasn’t quite sure what my setting or theme would be – apart from lots of snow! I was on holiday this year in a little village in France and fell in love with the tiny patisseries that were piled high with the most amazing cakes, tortes, breads and croissants. They were the bustling hub of the village. Those memories combined with a passion for the Bake Off and suddenly everything came together in this book.

3. There are lots of books out now that involve cupcakes, what made you go for delicate French pastries as your festive food of choice in this book?

My grandmother grew up in France so a lot of the cooking in our extended family has a french origin and a fair bit of what they make in the book I grew up watching being baked by my mum or grandmother – and occasionally giving it a go myself! – so it all felt very familiar. Also, while I’m quite partial to a cupcake, I really love the pastries that you see in the window of places like Patisserie Valerie and other little cake shops – strawberry tarts, millefeuille, flakey almond croissants, eclairs and of course the macaroon. They’re more art than food! When I walk past those places I have to just pause and admire!

4. Did you base the character of the chef, Henri Salernes, on a celebrity chef?

Not one in particular but I watch a lot of Masterchef and I’m always amazed at the hierarchy in the kitchen and how brutal it can be. I’d either be trembling in the corner or walk out in a rage whereas the junior chefs are so in tune with the system and what’s expected that a simple ‘yes chef’ always seems to be the only answer. There’s no quibbling. I liked the idea that no one had ever really had the courage to stand up to Rachel, the protagonist in my book, and tell her that it was time to change, to move on and forward. Possibly the only person who could have done that was her mum and she’s gone. So the idea that this mean french chef might be the one to break down her barriers really appealed to me.

5. I would love to read more about Rachel’s life back home in her village. Will you be writing more about her?

Yes I think so. I’m working on something at the moment where she appears as a secondary character and it’s really lovely to see her and Philippe again – he really makes me laugh so I can’t let him go!

6. What can we expect from you next?

I loved writing this book and I especially liked the community of Rachel’s home town so, at the moment, that’s where I’m headed next.

7. Have you got any tips for aspiring writers out there?

Enjoy what you are writing. And do it as much as possible.

8. I always like to ask a food related question, so what’s your favourite treat to get you in a festive mood?

Last weekend we were watching some terrible Christmas film, had just decorated the tree and we roasted some chestnuts! They’re one of my all time festive foods. I love breaking open the shells while they’re still steaming hot and the flavour just says Christmas to me. The trick is not to forget about them…countless times I’ve left them in the oven till they’re burnt to a crisp so when I get them right they seem doubly special.

Thank you for this great interview Jenny! The Parisian Christmas Bake Off is available on Amazon now, and you can read my review here.

The Parisian Christmas Bake Off

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Welcome to the most celebrated patisserie competition in Paris – ready, steady, bake!

Watching snowflakes settle on the Eiffel Tower, Rachel Smithson’s cosy English village feels very far way – as, thankfully, does her commitment-phobic ex, probably already kissing someone else under the mistletoe. But Rachel hasn’t come to Paris to mope she’s come to bake. Hard.

Because the search for Paris’s next patisserie apprentice is about to begin! And super-chef judge Henri Salernes is an infamously tough cookie. But Rachel isn’t about to let her confidence (or pastry) crumble. She’s got one week, mounds of melt-in-the-mouth macaroons and towers of perfect profiteroles to prove that she really is a star baker.

As well as clouds of flour, and wafts of chocolate and cinnamon, there’s definitely a touch of Christmas magic in the air… Rachel hasn’t come to Paris looking for a fairy-tale romance, but the city of love might gift-wrap her one anyway…

Not even a dusting of icing sugar could make The Parisian Christmas Bake-Off a more perfect Christmas treat!

My opinion: I really liked the look of this book. What’s not to like about Christmas, Paris and baking?!

Rachel is a primary school teacher who has a real talent for baking, but due to the memories it evokes, she has kept the talent, and her past, buried away. When her friends arrange for her to join an exclusive competition in Paris to win an apprenticeship with a top pastry chef, she not only had to let her talent shine through, but also face her past.

I really enjoyed this book. It was a mix of cake, Paris, romance and coming to terms with things that are in the past, and it worked so well. It was well paced, well written and had some great characters. I’ll definitely read more of Jenny’s books and I hope she writes more about Rachel’s life after returning to the UK.

I’d definitely recommend this book as a great Christmas read that will leave you feeling warm inside, and also very hungry!

My rating: A fab four stars

I was sent a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review