Laura Bambrey Books

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Monday, 23 January 2017

Book and a Biscuit: The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan


The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan, published by Two Roads, release date 26th January 2017


Lemon and Ginger tea from Twinings - a warm, spicy, citrus tea that's the perfect pick-me-up for the short January days. The perfect, gentle accompaniment to this beautiful book.


Nothing can beat the comfort of a classic McVitie's Rich Tea biscuit.

Friday, 20 January 2017

Review: Instructions for a Second-Hand Heart by Tamsyn Murray

I originally read Instructions for a Second-Hand Heart back in the autumn, and was completely bowled over by it. It was one of those books I struggled to sit down and write a review about straight away because, frankly, it had my emotions exposed and raw... and I just wanted to savour it for myself for a little while. So this week I decided on that rare, beautiful moment a book-blogger can usually only dream of... re-reading a favourite. That's right, I sat down and devoured the story again. And this time I'm ready to tell you about it.

Teenaged Jonny has been waiting for a suitable heart for a transplant for what feels like for ever- and now, it seems as if time is going to run out for him. His world in the hospital is as familiar to him as his home-life- and the other patients count as his best friends- especially Em. But just because they've been in and out (or in ... and in... and in...) hospital for so long, it doesn't take away from their delicious 'teen-ness'.

Niamh is trying to come to terms with losing her twin brother. Her feelings are completely confused- grief, mixed with guilt, mixed with a kind of numbness. When Jonny gets in touch and the pair are drawn together through the weirdest of circumstances, it seems that he may be the only person who can help her begin to heal- and in turn, heal him.

What drew me into the story- both times- and makes this book so memorable is the un-sentimental viewpoint and voices of the teen protagonists. This lack of sugar-coating heightens the emotional impact of the novel. Murray writes with feeling, depth and warmth- providing much-needed awareness of serious issues- organ donation, childhood death and grief.

I've seen this novel described as a 'tear-jerker'. Yes and no. No: because, to me, that describes a weepy- the kind of book or film that purposefully sets out to draw out the tears. This book is all about Jonny, Niamh and Em's story. It's not there to provide the reader with some kind of catharsis. Yes: because the story is full of real, raw emotion and characters that you end up caring a great deal for. It didn't reduce me to a sobbing wreck (thank goodness). I actually think its impact went a lot deeper than that.

You could draw comparisons... YA fans of John Green's The Fault In Our Stars should definitely read this... and contemporary fiction fans of Jojo Moyes' Me Before You should also grab a copy asap. But all that said, Instructions for a Second-Hand Heart stands out all on its own. It doesn't really need comparison- this is powerful YA at its best.

Paperback:                     Kindle:

The Blurb:

Jonny has a faulty heart and his time is running out. Niamh has just lost her twin brother in a tragic accident. As their fates collide, soon Jonny is on the mend - but desperate to know more about his donor. When he tracks down Niamh, he only intends to find out about her brother, the first owner of his heart. He doesn't plan on falling in love... A stunning, tear-jerking novel about grief, guilt, and the unpredictability of love.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Writer's B*%locks

Book and a Biscuit: Instructions for a Second-Hand Heart by Tamsyn Murray


Instructions for a Second-Hand Heart by Tamsyn Murray. Actually- technically I'm re-reading this awesome book. I read it back in the autumn and loved it- so I'm indulging in that very rare treat for a blogger- a re-read :) Review coming tomorrow!


Blooming Cherry Bliss- cherry green tea with rose petals by Jolly Brew- a beautiful, delicate tea that smells of roses. (Thank you Adele @ Kraftireader for sending me this to try)


The Classic McVitie's Fruit Shortcake.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Weekly Series: Doomed Date Diaries: Part 7

Part 7

Doomed Date Diaries by Bethany Quinn

10. Dennis

Dennis was a regular date. Half eleven, every other Sunday morning for the last three months. He was an older gentleman, true, but he still had a mischievous twinkle in his eye. I liked that. He was funny looking, protective, stubborn- in a charming sort of way- and absolutely devoted to anyone who would throw him a stick. Despite his carefree attitude though, Dennis was a bull terrier with some serious dual custody issues.

I'd helped his owners, Clive and Hannah, split up back in November. That's what I do for a day job- I un-connect people. I make the difficult transition from couple to single again easier. They hire me as an intermediary, someone with no vested interest in who gets to keep the couch or the signed Mariah Carey album. And I see it through to the bitter end, whatever that may be. It saves time, heartache and a lot of 3am arguments on the phone.

Sometimes I'm more successful than others. Dennis was the result of a couple who were simply unable to let go. Now they shared him. A fortnight each. And I was there to referee the handover.

Clive was sitting next to me on a park bench. Dennis was sitting on the ground. Hannah had dropped him off ten minutes earlier. It was February and minus five. How do dogs do that? I was worried his little furry wedding vegetables would freeze to the pavement. Clive was crying- again.

'I miss her,' he blubbed. I handed him another tissue.

It never ceased to amaze me the amount of water that man could pump out through his eyes. Where in his head was he storing it all?

'Why doesn't she love me anymore?' He kept burbling.

Dennis wasn't really paying attention. He was watching a labradoodle trot by with the same look of bemused distrust that I give anything with 'Greek' and 'Wine' on the same label. I tickled him between the eyes and he pretended not to notice but I could see his tail wagging.

I wasn't there to judge but I guessed Clive's predicament had something to do with him sleeping with Hannah's sister. He called it a 'little accident.' She called it an affair that lasted over a year. Funny how people see things differently.

Dennis didn't seem to mind though. He had a stick- and me. He was happy.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Review: Chasing Shadows by T.A. Williams

Time slip and historical novels have not really appeared on my reading radar much in the past- sure, I’ve picked up and enjoyed the occasional novel in these genres- but haven’t actively gone on the hunt for them… until the last few months. I’ve read some truly outstanding work both in historical and time slip romance recently- and I’m quickly finding that these are becoming two of my most enjoyed genres.

So, when I heard about T.A Williams’ new book, Chasing Shadows- a time slip romance set between 2016 and the early 1300s, I had to have a read. This genre is a departure from Williams’ previous work in the chicklit / romcom category, and I was really interested to read his take on such a different genre.

Our 2016 protagonists, Amy and Luke are both haunted by events in their respective pasts. Amy lost her family in the same accident that robbed her of her eyesight. And there are dark events in Luke’s past that he’s keeping close to his chest. The pair are thrown together by a well meaning, mutual friend when Amy decides to travel the Camino pilgrimage route to indulge her love of medieval history and to break her out of her insular life. But of course, she needs a guide and Luke is just the man. They begin their journey- thrown together in the most intimate and extreme circumstances.

In the 1300s we have Luc and Aimee. Aimee has lost her husband and travelling companions on the treacherous pilgrimage route whilst undertaking a task of vital importance for her husband’s order. A brutal attack has left Aimee blind and helpless. Luc is a Templar Knight who is running from his pursuers. When he encounters Aimee, the wife of his former comrade, he takes her into his protection and together they continue their epic quest to escape.

William’s style is fluid and effortless, and the scene changes between the present day and the 1300s are perfectly timed to keep the pace of both moving swiftly. When a book has multiple viewpoints, I always find that I tend to favour one or the other, and the clear contender for me here was the historical element. These passages were structured far more in the style of a fantasy novel, with plenty of action, cliffhangers and danger, whereas the present day passages were far more character-led and introspective.

The time slip element of the book is incredibly subtle- hinted at as a possibility just a couple of times rather than overt time-travel between the historical periods.

Overall, this is a fascinating read that introduced me to a period of history that I have absolutely no knowledge of- though now I’m keen to find out more. The romance is warm and real, and I felt close to all of the characters by the end of the book. The epilogue in particular left me smiling, with a little tear in my eye. Chasing Shadows gives you one epic journey, two beautiful love stories.
Grab your copy here:


The Blurb:
Amy had it all – money, brains and beauty. And then the accident happened.

The Present Day: Left blind and without her family, Amy feels she needs to get away. On a trip along the Camino, she is accompanied by the mysterious and troubled Luke. Having been set up to help Amy by a mutual friend, Luke finds he is also running from his past…

1314: A Templar Knight, Luc, is also running. He meets the wife of a former comrade, now blinded in a terrifying attack: Aimee. Taking her under his wing, they must journey together through a dangerous world.

As they travel through the stunning scenery of Northern Spain, this couple, so very like Luke and Amy, emerge from the shadows of time carrying a treasure of inestimable value.

Chasing Shadows is an enchanting novel about the search for happiness, fulfilment… and love.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Book and a Biscuit: Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard


Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard published by Corvus, paperback release date 5th January 2017


Cranberry and Raspberry by Twinings - a soothing, sweet fruit infusion that tastes a like a summer's day. Caffeine free- and just look at that colour! Perfect to take the edge off of this chilling read.


Garibaldis (these are Morrison's own-brand and are pretty bloomin' moorish!) Definitely the favoured biccy of my other half- these were purloined from the remainders of his Christmas stash!