Summer at Serenity Bay – doesn’t it just sound wonderful? Well, having read the book, I can tell you that if Serenity Bay was real, I’d be there like a shot! Today, It’s publication day for the book and I’m sharing my review as well as a Q&A with the author.
Serenity Bay Wellness Spa is the Roisin’s dream business which she is just starting to make reality. In an attempt to boost awareness of the retreat, her advertising executive friend Chloe manages to get a television company to sign up to record a reality TV show there. Six celebrities will come to Serenity Bay while six celebrities will go to Switzerland. The show will try to prove whether natural or scientific methods make the most difference to your overall health and well-being. Chloe and Roisin hope that the celebrities will love with Serenity Bay and all it has to offer as much as they do.
I really want to go to the wellness retreat or spa or whatever you want to call Serenity Bay. It sounds just idyllic. I loved the whole ethos of good home cooking, enjoying the outdoors, appreciating nature and getting involved with activities like making your own scented candles, chocolate making workshops, nature courses, yoga and watersports .
The characters were just fabulous too and not just the main quartet of Roisin, Chloe, Heather and Andy. They were a real mixed bag of quirky characters who I became very fond of. Maggie, the pub landlord, was someone who I really liked, a real character.
As you might imagine, it doesn’t all go smoothly especially with the grumpy celebrities not really embracing the concept initially. There were lots of funny parts here as their competing egos took over. Sometimes though it seemed that just one thing after another went wrong and it seemed like Serenity Bay might not work its magic on them too.
I loved my visit to Serenity Bay and, as I said, wish it was a real place I could visit. Helen Bridgett has created some great characters and written a warmly funny and really engaging book, with a rather lovely love story too. I highly recommend this for a bit of escapist fun this summer.
Thanks to Liz at ChocLit/Ruby Fiction for providing a review copy of the book – you can buy your copy from the Ruby Fiction website where you will find options for various ebook retailers: Summer at Serenity Bay
And now for that Author Spotlight
Thanks for joining me today Helen. First of all, would you tell my blog readers a little about yourself?
Hello out there!
I’m delighted to be part of the blog. I’ve been writing for five years now and Serenity Bay is my third novel to be published. It’s set on the glorious Northumberland coast where I regularly walk my dog Angus. I’m from the North East of England and recently moved back so really wanted to showcase the wonderful beaches we have up here. Outside of writing feel-good fiction, I love to get together with friends and have a good giggle over a glass of wine.
What inspired you to start writing?
I wrote my first novel as a New Year resolution. I love reading and like many people always wanted to write something of my own. In January when thinking about my goals for the year, I automatically listed the usual things – stick to a diet, go to the gym more regularly – the stuff I normally plan but never enjoy. I gave myself a telling off and asked “Come on girl – what one thing would you love to do?” and I knew it was to write a novel. I vowed complete it within the year and give it to my sister for Christmas. Who knows, she might have preferred homemade biscuits!
Tell me about your journey to publication
After I’d written my first novel I read everything I could about approaching publishers and basically followed the advice given. I went to a writing festival and pitched my first chapter to industry professionals, I joined writing groups and courses and I asked the advice of published authors in my genre. I listened to what they said and asked for publishers they’d recommend – Ruby Fiction were on that list so I read their submission guidelines, prepared my materials and pressed send. The rest is history!
In a nutshell, what is your latest book about?
I think the cover blurb describes it best so here goes;
Advertising executive Chloe Walsh thought she was visiting her friend Roisin to get away from it all, but little does she know her kooky friend has a master plan to breathe some life into her sleepy seaside village through a new wellness retreat – and she needs Chloe’s skills.
So starts a community effort to put the retreat, Serenity Bay, on the map. Everyone from Andy at the Surf Shack to Tony at the chocolate shop is involved – even Roisin’s Gran has a few ideas!
But Chloe strikes gold almost too soon, attracting the attention of a major production company. Now a colourful group of celebrities are preparing to descend on Serenity Bay to film a reality TV show. Is the village ready for the fun and scandal that are bound to follow?
How did you come up with the title for your book?
To be honest, I can’t remember. I had the title in my head before I started writing it. However, when I was researching old Norse words, I discovered that khyrr meant serene or calm and that’s where the name of the village came from.
How do you plan to celebrate publication day?
The launch is actually on my husband’s birthday so we’re going over to the Lake District and we’ll be glamping beside Ullswater. I hope to have a day out on the fells followed by a celebratory barbecue and bottle of wine!
Do you have a work in progress just now?
I have another book coming out in January 2021 so will be editing that soon and I’m also writing a Serenity Bay Christmas edition. As well as novels I enjoy writing short stories and I have pieces appearing in a couple of anthologies later this year.
What’s your favourite book you’ve read in the past few months? Or favourite three if you really can’t choose!
That really is impossible to decide! I did enjoy The Familiars by Stacey Halls and loved that it was based on a real person.
What are you reading just now?
All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.
It’s both heartbreaking and hopeful – but I haven’t finished it yet so don’t tell me how it ends!
If you were on Desert Island Discs, what one book would you take with you?
Raft Building For Beginners?!
I’d probably take a notebook as I really cannot imagine not being able to write. I’d miss it too much.
Is there a book you’d love to see made into a film?
My first – The Mercury Travel Club. It would be a strong female cast, with lots of laughs and there aren’t enough films like that.
How can people follow you or connect with you on social media?
Please do come and say hello – you can find me at:
And finally, if you could be a character in any book you have read, who would it be and why?
I loved Enid Blyton as a child and always wanted to have adventures with the Famous Five. I’d be George!